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Ionization


Ionization is the process by which an atom or a molecule acquires a negative or positive charge by gaining or losing electrons to form ions, often in conjunction with other chemical changes. Ionization can result from the loss of an electron after collisions with subatomic particles, collisions with other atoms, molecules and ions, or through the interaction with light. Heterolytic bond cleavage and heterolytic substitution reactions can result in the formation of ion pairs. Ionization can occur through radioactive decay by the internal conversion process, in which an excited nucleus transfers its energy to one of the inner-shell electrons causing it to be ejected.

Everyday examples of gas ionization are such as within a fluorescent lamp or other electrical discharge lamps. It is also used in radiation detectors such as the Geiger-Müller counter or the ionization chamber. The ionization process is widely used in a variety of equipment in fundamental science and in such as mass spectrometry and radiotherapy.

Negatively charged ions are produced when a free electron collides with an atom and is subsequently trapped inside the electric potential barrier, releasing any excess energy. The process is known as electron capture ionization.

Positively charged ions are produced by transferring a sufficient amount of energy to a bound electron in a collision with charged particles (e.g. ions, electrons or positrons) or with photons. The threshold amount of the required energy is known as ionization potential. The study of such collisions is of fundamental importance with regard to the few-body problem (see article on few-body systems), which is one of the major unsolved problems in physics. Kinematically complete experiments, i.e. experiments in which the complete momentum vector of all collision fragments (the scattered projectile, the recoiling target-ion, and the ejected electron) are determined, have contributed to major advances in the theoretical understanding of the few-body problem in recent years.


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Wikipedia

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