Coulomb explosion

Coulomb explosion

A process in which a molecule moving with high velocity strikes a solid and the electrons that bond the molecule are torn off rapidly in violent collisions with the electrons of the solid; as a result, the molecule is suddenly transformed into a cluster of charged atomic constituents that then separate under the influence of their mutual Coulomb repulsion. See Coulomb's law

Coulomb explosions are most commonly studied using a particle accelerator, normally employed in nuclear physics research (Van de Graaff generator, cyclotron, and so forth), to produce a beam of fast molecular ions that are directed onto a solid-foil target. The Coulomb explosion of the molecular projectiles begins within the first few tenths of a nanometer of penetration into the foil, continues during passage of the projectiles through the foil, and runs to completion after emergence of the projectiles into the vacuum downstream from the foil. Detectors located downstream make precise measurements of the energies and charges of the molecular fragments together with their angles of emission relative to the beam direction. The Coulomb explosion causes the fragment velocities to be shifted in both magnitude and direction from the beam velocity. See Particle accelerator

Coulomb explosion experiments serve two main purposes. First, they yield valuable information on the interactions of fast ions with solids. For example, it is known that a fast ion generates a polarization wake that trails behind it as it traverses a solid. This wake can be studied in detail by using diatomic molecular-ion beams, since the motion of a trailing fragment is influenced not only by the Coulomb explosion but also by the wake of its partner. Second, Coulomb-explosion techniques can be used to determine the stereochemical structures of molecular-ion projectiles. See Electron wake, Molecular structure and spectra

Coulomb explosion

[′kü‚läm ik‚splō·zhən]
(physics)
A process in which a molecule moving with high velocity strikes a solid and the electrons that bond the molecule are torn off rapidly in violent collisions with the electrons of the solid; as a result, the molecule is transformed into a cluster of charged atomic constituents that then separate under the influence of their mutual Coulomb repulsion.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Several experimental and theoretical investigations suggest that ultrafast multielectronic processes might be fundamental in determining the behaviour of molecules and clusters, and that understanding these phenomena might offer new perspectives on processes occurring on slower timescales, such as bond-breaking in complex molecules and Coulomb explosion in charged clusters.
Among the topics are free energies of staging a scenario and perpetual motion machines of the third kind, finite-time thermodynamic tools to analyze dissipative processes, concepts and some numerical examples of the emergence of simple structures in complex phenomena, laser energy deposition in nanodroplets and nuclear fusion driven by Coulomb explosion, and biomolecular homochirality as a quasi-fossil of the evolution of life.
Tried and true theory doesn't hold water in Coulomb explosion USING AN EXPLOSIVE new analysis technique, scientists at Argonne (IL) National Laboratory and Weizmann Institute of Science for the first time are seeing just what certain molecules look like.
When Vager and Argonne physicist Elliot Kanter developed the Coulomb explosion technique, they were looking for a method to analyze highly reactive molecules.
Repelled by their positive electrical charges, the nuclei fly apart in a violent Coulomb explosion.
By providing nuclear motion data, which cannot be obtained with traditional spectroscopic techniques, the Coulomb explosion method might improve computer models that predict the behavior of molecules.
Although the two molecules are almost identical chemically, Kanter and Vager say Coulomb explosion data indicate that the molecules are held together by widely varying forces.
Coulomb explosions are created by neutralizing the atomic forces that hold molecules together.
The method, called Coulomb explosion imaging, takes advantage of the large electrical repulsion between the nuclei within molecules rapidly stripped of all or most of their electrons.