Fermi National Laboratory

Operation Terminology

Alpha Particle

An alpha particle is a positively charged particle that may be ejected spontaneously from the nuclei of some radioactive elements. It is identical to a helium nucleus that has a mass number of 4 and an electrostatic charge of +2. It has low penetrating power and a short range (a few centimeters in air). The most energetic alpha particle will generally fail to penetrate the dead layers of cells covering the skin and can be easily stopped by a sheet of paper.

last modified 9/9/2004   email Fermilab
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