Alpha particles are helium nuclei (2He2+). They are typically emitted from high Z-number atoms and form the components of many naturally occurring radioactive decay series. Due to their large mass, alpha particles deposit large amounts of energy in a very small distance in matter. Therefore, as a radiation hazard they represent a very large problem if ingested, however, conversely, as they are relatively easy to stop,
they are easily shielded. An example of alpha decay is shown in the following:
The half-life for this particular process is 4.5 x 109 years.
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