Positron Emitter Production

Q: Are there any Rules of Thumb about how various isotopes are produced so I do not have to memorize all of them?

A: Yes, a good rule of thumb is that cyclotrons produce isotopes that decay by positron emission or electron capture while fission products often undergo beta minus decay. Cyclotrons bombard a target with protons, giving them too much positive charge and making them unstable. There are then two ways to get rid of the extra protons. 1) positron emission and 2) Electron capture.

Both In-111 and Ga-67 are produced in a cyclotron and decay by electron capture. F-18, O-15, N-13, and C-11 are produced in a cyclotron and decay by positron emission. It should be noted that it is possible for positron emitters to be produced by other means (e.g., Rb-82 and Ga-68 are produced from a generator). That is why it is a rule of thumb and not an absolute truth.

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