Tiny droplets open the doors to in-flight imaging of proteins

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated the creation of a beam of nanodroplets capable of delivering a variety of biological samples, from cell organelles to single proteins, virtually free from any contaminations, ...

What ionized the universe?

The sparsely distributed hot gas that exists in the space between galaxies, the intergalactic medium, is ionized. The question is, how? Astronomers know that once the early universe expanded and cooled enough, hydrogen (its ...

Physicists edge closer to controlling chemical reactions

A team of researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and Aarhus University in Denmark has developed an algorithm for predicting the effect of an external electromagnetic field on the state of complex ...

Ultracold atoms and ultrafast lasers

Two separate research fields have been united in Hamburg for the very first time. Ultrashort laser pulses enable us to observe and manipulate matter on very short time scales, whereas ultracold atoms permit experiments with ...

Detecting the shape of laser pulses

A team of researchers at the Center for Relativistic Laser Science, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) have developed a method to measure the shape of laser pulses in ambient air. Unlike conventional strategies, ...

When nuclei catch up with electrons

In an attosecond study of the H2 molecule, physicists at ETH Zurich found that for light atomic nuclei, as contained in most organic and biological molecules, the correlation between electronic and nuclear motions cannot ...

page 1 from 11

Ionization

Ionization is the process of converting an atom or molecule into an ion by adding or removing charged particles such as electrons or other ions. This is often confused with dissociation. A substance may dissociate without necessarily producing ions. As an example, the molecules of table sugar dissociate in water (sugar is dissolved) but exist as intact neutral entities. Another subtle event is the dissociation of sodium chloride (table salt) into sodium and chlorine ions. Although it may seem as a case of ionization, in reality the ions already exist within the crystal lattice. When salt is dissociated, its constituent ions are simply surrounded by water molecules and their effects are visible (e.g. the solution becomes electrolytic). However, no transfer or displacement of electrons occurs whatsoever. Actually, the chemical synthesis of salt involves ionization.

The process of ionization works slightly differently depending on whether an ion with a positive or a negative electric charge is being produced. A positively charged ion is produced when an electron bonded to an atom (or molecule) absorbs the proper amount of energy to escape from the electric potential barrier that originally confined it, thus breaking the bond and freeing it to move. The amount of energy required is called the ionization energy. A negatively charged ion is produced when a free electron collides with an atom and is subsequently caught inside the electric potential barrier, releasing any excess energy.

In general, ionization can be broken down into two types: sequential ionization and non-sequential ionization. In classical physics, only sequential ionization can take place; refer to the Classical ionization section for more information. Non-sequential ionization violates several laws of classical physics; refer to the Quantum ionization section.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA