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decay chain

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A sequence of radioactive decay processes, in which the decay of one element creates a new element that may itself be radioactive. The chain ends when stable atoms are formed. For example, uranium-238 decays into thorium-234, which in turn decays into palladium-234, and so on until stable iron is produced at the end of the chain. Also called decay sequence
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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