Electron Scattering by Vibrationallly Excited Molecules
Electron-molecule collisions have been studied for well over half a century since the earliest experimental work of Ramsauer and Kollath (1930) and theoretical calculations of Stier (1932) and Fisk (1936). The interaction of slow electrons with atoms and molecules (0–20eV) plays an important role in understanding the thermalisation of the ionosphere, the design and operation of lasers and related gas discharges and in plasma etching used in the semiconductor industry. However in both theoretical and experimental studies the target molecule is usually treated as being in its lowest state of excitation (vibrational/rotational, electronic) and our knowledge of the interactions of electrons with excited (energy rich) molecules is extremely limited in spite of its fundamental importance in laser and plasma physics, chemistry, and even the life sciences. The limited data that are available indicate that the cross sections for electron scattering from excited molecular targets may be very different from those for scattering from the corresponding ground state. In this review, we will both discuss the data currently available and suggest future experiments that will provide important new information on this most basic of collision processes.
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