Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

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


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    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.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook