What happens to freed electrons?

In addition to understanding the processes of ionization, we need to consider the liberated electrons. What about the free electrons that have been liberated during the process? Every method of ionization results in some form of electron liberation. These electrons possess energy (Kinetic energy), or motion. Where do they go?


Eventually the energy of the electron must be absorbed as well. The energy of a moving electron can be absorbed in different ways. The electron may collide with another orbital electron and knock it out. Resulting in a loss of energy, or sharing of energy due to liberating another electron. If the electron’s energy transfer is not totally absorbed, it may continue to liberate other electrons. Liberated electrons may also have enough sufficient energy to continue liberating other electrons. This process may continue until minimal energy remains in any one electron. These low energy electrons will eventually interact with an atom in what is known as Subionization. Atoms are not ionized by this process. Rather, the orbital electrons are given a little excess energy, which will be given off eventually in the form of low energy electromagnetic radiation. This electromagnetic form may be ultraviolet light, visible light, or heat energy. It should be noted that although all X- and gamma ray absorption eventually ends up this way, the actual quantities are very small in relation to the mass of the material for which the interaction is occurring. The actual effects would be extremely small and unnoticeable, unless we had some sort of instrumentation that was highly sensitive.


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