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E-field lowering of ionization potential

  1. Oct 10, 2007 #1
    When an electric field is high enough, electrons are not so easily confined to molecules or atoms. This has been the basis of field ionization for mass spectrometry. But what if the field is not enough to ionize, but close. Would it be easier to ionize the atom or molecule with less energy? Any reference on this?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2007 #2


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    This is loosely known as the Schottky effect (just be careful because this term is used elsewhere for other similar phenomena). We see this all the time as the lowering of the work function of metals when it is in very high electric field. So this is certainly similar to the case for atoms and molecules where the ionization energy has been lowered due to the external field.

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