# How does carbon 14 decay by beta emission?

Feb 3, 2016

Carbon 14 decays by beta emission into Nitrogen 14.

#### Explanation:

Carbon 14 has 6 protons and 8 neutrons and is radioactive. It has a half life of about 5,730 years. This means that after 5,730 years half of the atoms will have decayed.

Carbon 14 is unstable because it has too many neutrons. It decays by beta emission where one of the neutrons gets converted into into a proton an electron and an electron anti-neutrino.

${\text{_6^14C rarr }}_{7}^{14} N + {e}^{-} + {\overline{\nu}}_{e}$

The decay is a result of the weak force. A proton has 2 up quarks and 1 down quark. A neutron has 1 up quark and 2 down quarks. A down quark in one of the neutrons gets converted into an up quark and a ${W}^{-}$ which decays into an electron and an electron anti-neutrino.

$d \rightarrow u + {W}^{-}$
${W}^{-} \rightarrow {e}^{-} + {\overline{\nu}}_{e}$