Photoionisation

Photoionisation

Photoionisation is the physical process in which an incident photon ejects one or more electrons from an atom, ion or molecule.

The ejected electrons, known as photoelectrons, carry information about their pre-ionised states. For example, a single electron can have a kinetic energy equal to the energy of the incident photon minus the electron binding energy of the state it left. Photons with energies less than the electron binding energy may be absorbed or scattered but will not photoionise the atom or ion.

For example, to ionise hydrogen, photons need an energy greater than 13.6 electronvolts, which corresponds to a wavelength of 91.2 nm [Carroll, B. W., Ostlie, D. A., (2007), "An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics", Wiley, p.121] . For photons with greater energy than this, the energy of the emitted photoelectron is given by:

:½"mv"2 = "hν" − 13.6 eV

where "h" is Planck's constant and "ν" is the frequency of the photon.

Not every photon which encounters an atom or ion will photoionise it. The probability of photoionisation is related to the photoionisation cross-section, which depends on the energy of the photon and the target being considered. For photon energies below the ionisation threshold, the photoionisation cross-section is zero.

References

See also

*Photoionization mode
*Electron binding energy
*Photoelectric effect
*Photoionization detector


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