In that question and its answers it was mentioned that you could trigger radioactive decay by bombarding atoms with gamma rays of the right energy level (there may be other solutions I do not know about, but of course if you bombard with neutrons you can trigger nuclear reactions)

I am mainly interested by beta-decay. Is it possible to decrease the probability of the beta decay of some radioactive material by a physical treatment?

Is the rate fairly independant of temperature and external magnetic field for instance?


Yes. Have a look:

“The ‘Reifenschweiler effect’ is the observation that the beta-decay of tritium half-life 12.5 years is delayed reversibly by about 25-30% when the isotope is absorbed in 15 nm titanium-clusters in a temperature window in between 160-275 C. Remarkably at 360 C the original radioactivity reappears. The effect is absent in bulk metal. Discovered around 1960/1962 at Philips Research Eindhoven, The Netherlands Reifenschweiler extensively discussed his observation with o.a Casimir (the director of research at the time), Kistemaker (ultracentrifuge expert), and although no satisfactory explanation was found, R. was allowed to publish it. At the time a unique example as to how an electronic environment might affect nuclear phenomena.”

Here is a speculation to explain the effect.

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    $\begingroup$ Is this reproducible? Is there a consensus among physicists that it exists? You'll forgive me for doubting that website... $\endgroup$ – Keenan Pepper May 13 '11 at 6:02
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    $\begingroup$ yeah i would like to know more about further validation experiments that have happened, i couldn't find many references on this effect $\endgroup$ – lurscher May 13 '11 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ thanks a lot for this reference. Like other commentators, I wish there would be more work on this kind of effect. Perhaps modern modelization and theoretical tools could help find an interpretation for this. $\endgroup$ – Eric May 28 '11 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ Keenan and Lurscher I had not noticed the cold fusion use of the effect. I just searched for "Casimir" and "decay" because I vaguely remembered reading about this years ago.I have not been able to find more recent research on the subject. $\endgroup$ – anna v May 28 '11 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @rob there seem to be other , more recent , models than the one you propose so "wrong" is not proven. $\endgroup$ – anna v Dec 9 '16 at 4:59

A special kind of decay, electron capture $\beta^+$ decay, by definition depends on the electron density of the environment, which may change with pressure, chemical composition etc. There's a Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_of_decay_rate

  • $\begingroup$ Could there be a link between this and the effect quoted by anna v? $\endgroup$ – Eric May 28 '11 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Eric: No, the "Reifenschweiler effect" is kook stuff. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Aug 23 '13 at 17:39

It is possible to increase the probability of the beta decay

For the $\beta^+$-decay of $^{22}\text{Na}$ in the metallic environment Pd cooled to T=12K the $^{22}\text{Na}$ half-life was observed to be shorter by $1.2\pm 0.2$%


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