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Does a tunneling event create pairs of oppositely charged particles just like pair production? I guess I really just don't see the difference.
- Laura (age 17)
Tunneling is the name given to the quantum mechanical phenomenon of a particle overcoming a potential barrier. Pair production is the process of creating a particle-antiparticle pair. Both processes conserve charge. An example of non pair producing tunneling is the decay of certain nuclei by alpha particle emission such as U238
. Both charge and energy are conserved but no pairs are produced. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_decay
An example of a pair production process is γ + Pb --> Pb + e-
where the γ is a high energy photon.
(published on 11/17/09)
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