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Isotopes of potassium



Potassium (K) has 24 known isotopes. Three isotopes occur naturally: 39K (93.3%), 40K (0.012%) and 41K (6.7%). The standard atomic mass is 39.0983(1) u. Naturally occurring 40K decays to stable 40Ar (11.2%) by electron capture and by positron emission, and decays to stable 40Ca (88.8%) by beta decay; 40K has a half-life of 1.250×109 years. The decay of 40K to 40Ar enables a commonly used method for dating rocks. The conventional K-Ar dating method depends on the assumption that the rocks contained no argon at the time of formation and that all the subsequent radiogenic argon (i.e., 40Ar) was quantitatively retained. Minerals are dated by measurement of the concentration of potassium and the amount of radiogenic 40Ar that has accumulated. The minerals that are best suited for dating include biotite, muscovite, plutonic/high grade metamorphic hornblende, and volcanic feldspar; whole rock samples from volcanic flows and shallow instrusives can also be dated if they are unaltered.

Additional recommended knowledge

Outside of dating, potassium isotopes have been used extensively as tracers in studies of weathering. They have also been used for nutrient cycling studies because potassium is a macronutrient required for life.

40K occurs in natural potassium (and thus in some commercial salt substitutes) in sufficient quantity that large bags of those substitutes can be used as a radioactive source for classroom demonstrations. In healthy animals and people, 40K represents the largest source of radioactivity, greater even than 14C. In a human body of 70 kg mass, about 4,400 nuclei of 40K decay per second.[1]

Table

nuclide
symbol
Z(p) N(n)  
isotopic mass (u)
 
half-life nuclear
spin
representative
isotopic
composition
(mole fraction)
range of natural
variation
(mole fraction)
excitation energy
32K 19 13 32.02192(54)# 1+#
32mK 950(100)# keV  ? 4+#
33K 19 14 33.00726(21)# <25 ns (3/2+)#
34K 19 15 33.99841(32)# <40 ns 1+#
35K 19 16 34.988010(21) 178(8) ms 3/2+
36K 19 17 35.981292(8) 342(2) ms 2+
37K 19 18 36.97337589(10) 1.226(7) s 3/2+
38K 19 19 37.9690812(5) 7.636(18) min 3+
38m1K 130.50(28) keV 924.2(3) ms 0+
38m2K 3458.0(2) keV 21.98(11) µs (7+),(5+)
39K 19 20 38.96370668(20) STABLE 3/2+ 0.932581(44)
40K 19 21 39.96399848(21) 1.248(3)E+9 a 4- 0.000117(1)
40mK 1643.639(11) keV 336(12) ns 0+
41K 19 22 40.96182576(21) STABLE 3/2+ 0.067302(44)
42K 19 23 41.96240281(24) 12.360(12) h 2-
43K 19 24 42.960716(10) 22.3(1) h 3/2+
44K 19 25 43.96156(4) 22.13(19) min 2-
45K 19 26 44.960699(11) 17.3(6) min 3/2+
46K 19 27 45.961977(17) 105(10) s 2(-)
47K 19 28 46.961678(9) 17.50(24) s 1/2+
48K 19 29 47.965514(26) 6.8(2) s (2-)
49K 19 30 48.96745(8) 1.26(5) s (3/2+)
50K 19 31 49.97278(30) 472(4) ms (0-,1,2-)
51K 19 32 50.97638(54)# 365(5) ms 3/2+#
52K 19 33 51.98261(75)# 105(5) ms (2-)#
53K 19 34 52.98712(75)# 30(5) ms (3/2+)#
54K 19 35 53.99420(97)# 10(5) ms 2-#
55K 19 36 54.99971(107)# 3# ms 3/2+#

Notes

  • Values marked # are not purely derived from experimental data, but at least partly from systematic trends. Spins with weak assignment arguments are enclosed in parentheses.
  • Uncertainties are given in concise form in parentheses after the corresponding last digits. Uncertainty values denote one standard deviation, except isotopic composition and standard atomic mass from IUPAC which use expanded uncertainties.

References

  • Isotope masses from Ame2003 Atomic Mass Evaluation by G. Audi, A.H. Wapstra, C. Thibault, J. Blachot and O. Bersillon in Nuclear Physics A729 (2003).
  • Isotopic compositions and standard atomic masses from Atomic weights of the elements. Review 2000 (IUPAC Technical Report). Pure Appl. Chem. Vol. 75, No. 6, pp. 683-800, (2003) and Atomic Weights Revised (2005).
  • Half-life, spin, and isomer data selected from these sources. Editing notes on this article's talk page.
    • Audi, Bersillon, Blachot, Wapstra. The Nubase2003 evaluation of nuclear and decay properties, Nuc. Phys. A 729, pp. 3-128 (2003).
    • National Nuclear Data Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory. Information extracted from the NuDat 2.1 database (retrieved Sept. 2005).
    • David R. Lide (ed.), Norman E. Holden in CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 85th Edition, online version. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida (2005). Section 11, Table of the Isotopes.


Isotopes of argon Isotopes of potassium Isotopes of calcium
Index to isotope pages
 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Isotopes_of_potassium". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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