Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
Home > Encyclopedia of Science

internal conversion

Internal conversion is one of two kinds of isomeric transition, the other involving the emission of a gamma ray. Internal conversion is a process in which a nucleus with excess energy can get rid of that energy without altering its proton or neutron count. The excess energy of the nucleus is transmitted to the orbital electron of an atom, which is subsequently ejected from the atom. It can occur only if the amount of energy given to the orbital electron exceeds its binding energy. X-rays are emitted as the atom attempts to restore its neutrality. Internal conversion usually competes with gamma radiation as an energy-shedding mechanism.

Related category