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 particles, collisions with other atoms, molecules and ions. 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 and it is also used in radiation detectors such as the Geiger-Müller counter or the ionization chamber. The ionization process is used in a variety of equipment in fundamental science and in such as mass spectrometry. Negatively charged ions are produced when an electron collides with an atom and is subsequently trapped inside the electric potential barrier. 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 or with photons. The threshold amount of the energy is known as ionization potential. The study of such collisions is of importance with regard to the few-body problem. The Townsend discharge is an example of the creation of positive ions. It is a reaction involving electrons in a region with a sufficiently high electric field in a gaseous medium that can be ionized. Following an original event, due to such as ionizing radiation. If the electric field is strong enough, the free electron gains sufficient energy to liberate a further electron when it collides with another molecule. The two free electrons then travel towards the anode and gain sufficient energy from the field to cause impact ionization when the next collisions occur. This is effectively a chain reaction of electron generation, and is dependent on the free electrons gaining sufficient energy between collisions to sustain the avalanche, ionization efficiency is the ratio of the number of ions formed to the number of electrons or photons used. The trend in the energy of atoms is often used to demonstrate the periodic behavior of atoms with respect to the atomic number. This is a tool for establishing and understanding the ordering of electrons in atomic orbitals without going into the details of wave functions or the ionization process. An example is presented in figure 1, the periodic abrupt decrease in ionization potential after rare gas atoms, for instance, indicates the emergence of a new shell in alkali metals
The schematic presentation of lambda type population trapping. G is the ground state of the atom. 1 and 2 are two degenerate excited states. After the population is transferred to the states due to multiphoton resonance, these states are coupled through continuum c and the population is trapped in the superposition of these states.
Feynman diagram for the process of double ionization in an atom through re-scattering mechanism
Image: Tunnel ionization 3
Figure 1. Ionization energies of neutral elements.