Experimental detection of α-particles from the radioactive decay of natural bismuth

  title={Experimental detection of $\alpha$-particles from the radioactive decay of natural bismuth},
  author={Pierre de Marcillac and No{\"e}l Coron and G{\'e}rard Dambier and Jacques Leblanc and Jean-Pierre Moalic},
The only naturally occurring isotope of bismuth, 209Bi, is commonly regarded as the heaviest stable isotope. But like most other heavy nuclei abundant in nature and characterized by an exceptionally long lifetime, it is metastable with respect to α-decay. However, the decay usually evades observation because the nuclear structure of 209Bi gives rise to an extremely low decay probability and, moreover, generates low-energy α-particles difficult to detect. Indeed, dedicated experiments attempting… 
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