1 The spontaneous transformation of one radioactive nuclide into a daughter nuclide, which may be radioactive or may not, with the emission of one or more particles or photons. The decay of N0 nuclides to give N nuclides after time t is given by N = N0exp(–γt), where γ is called the decay constant or the disintegration constant. The reciprocal of the decay constant is the mean life. The time required for half the original nuclides to decay (i.e. N = ½N0) is called the half-life of the nuclide. The same terms are applied to elementary particles that spontaneously transform into other particles. For example, a free neutron decays into a proton and an electron.
2 The reversion of excited states of atoms or molecules to the ground state.
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