Forces on a charged particle

Alpha particles are positively charged, beta particles are negatively charged, and gamma radiation is electrically neutral. This means that alpha and beta radiation can be deflected by electric fields, but gamma radiation cannot.

Remember that opposite charges attract. Beta particles are negatively charged so they will be attracted towards a positively charged plate. And positive alpha particles will be attracted towards a negatively charged plate.

Radioactive particles fired between positively and negatively charged plates. Alpha particles curve towards negative. Beta particles curve towards positive. Gamma particles show no deviation.

Because they consist of charged particles, alpha and beta radiation can also be deflected by magnetic fields. Just as with electric fields, gamma radiation is not deflected by magnetic fields.

When alpha and beta particles move in magnetic fields they experience a deflecting force - provided their motion is not parallel to the field.

A stream of radioactive particles is fired into a magnetic field. Alpha particles deflect in one direction. Beta particles deflect in the opposite direction. Gamma rays travel straight through.Alpha, beta and gamma radiation passing through a magnetic field