Electron Capture Definition

Definition: Electron capture is a type of radioactive decay where the nucleus of an atom absorbs a K or L shell electron and converts a proton into a neutron. This process reduces the atomic number by 1 and emits gamma radiation and a neutrino.

The decay scheme for electron capture is:

ZXA + e-ZYA-1 + ν + γ


Z is the atomic mass
A is atomic number
X is the parent element
Y is daughter element
e- is an electron
ν is a neutrino
γ is a gamma photon

Also Known As: EC, K-capture (if K shell electron is captured), L-capture (if L shell electron is captured)

Examples: Nitrogen-13 decays to Carbon-13 by electron capture.

13N7 + e-13C6 + ν + γ

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Electron Capture Definition." ThoughtCo, Jun. 25, 2014, thoughtco.com/definition-of-electron-capture-605071. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2014, June 25). Electron Capture Definition. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-electron-capture-605071 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Electron Capture Definition." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-electron-capture-605071 (accessed March 21, 2018).