If we consider the beta-minus decay of a radioisotope, we produce an electron and an antineutrino, and a neutron which is converted to a proton.

Say we take this same isotope and shoot an antineutrino at it. By inverse beta decay, the proton (or one of the protons in the nucleus) should be converted into a neutron.

In essence, is IBD a mechanism we can use to "reverse" a beta decay event? By this nature, can a stable product of a decay be made unstable again?

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    $\begingroup$ why not? of course neutrinos/antineutrinos interact with the weak interaction and this reaction will be very improbable $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jun 29, 2019 at 7:09

1 Answer 1


Yes it is. But the reaction's probability is quite low. To give you an example, when Cowan and Reines did their original experiment the antineutrino flux was estimated to be about $10^{13}/cm^2/s^{-1}$ but the number of times they observed IBD was about 2-3 per hour (Source: Griffiths, Elementary Particles Ch. 1).

A more probable reaction is electron capture (e.g., "decay" of $\mathrm{Kr}^{81}$).

$$ p^+ + e^{−} \to n + \nu_e \\ $$


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