Alpha, beta, gamma, and neutron radiation are summarized below.
Radiation Types Summary
The alpha particle is a helium nucleus produced from the radioactive decay of
heavy metals and some nuclear reactions.
The high positive charge of an alpha particle causes electrical excitation and
ionization of surrounding atoms.
The beta particle is an ordinary electron or positron ejected from the nucleus of
a beta-unstable radioactive atom.
The interaction of a beta particle and an orbital electron leads to electrical
excitation and ionization of the orbital electron.
The gamma ray is a photon of electromagnetic radiation with a very short
wavelength and high energy.
The three methods of attenuating gamma-rays are: photoelectric effect, compton
scattering, and pair production.
Neutrons have no electrical charge and have nearly the same mass as a proton
(a hydrogen atom nucleus).
Neutrons collide with nuclei, causing one of the following reactions: inelastic
scattering, elastic scattering, radiative capture, or fission.