Inelastic Collisions – A First Overview

  • Ingolf V. Hertel
  • Claus-Peter Schulz
Part of the Graduate Texts in Physics book series (GTP)


We introduce some characteristic questions about inelastic and reactive collisions and approaches to answer them for several important examples. We start in Sect. 7.1 with very simple models. The general trends for excitation processes as a function of the relative kinetic energy are presented in Sect. 7.2. Specifically, in Sect. 7.2.7 we focus on the threshold region. In Sect. 7.3 we introduce multichannel theory, and discuss the alternative adiabatic and diabatic viewpoints. In Sect. 7.4 we extend the semiclassical methods already employed in the elastic case. In Sect. 7.5 we make a short excursions into the world of collision processes with highly charged ions. Finally, we address reactive scattering processes in Sect. 7.6.


Differential Cross Section Excitation Function Integral Cross Section High Kinetic Energy Inelastic Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Acronyms and Terminology


‘atomic units’, see Sect.  2.6.2 in Vol. 1.


Born Oppenheimer’, approximation, the basis when solving the Schrödinger equation for molecules (see Sect.  3.2).


‘Close-coupling’, calculations, computation of scattering cross sections by solving (part of) the coupled integro-differential equations (see Sect.  8.1.1).


‘Convergent close-coupling’, calculations, special solutions of the coupled integro-differential equations for collisions (see Sect.  8.1).


‘Charge coupled device’, semiconductor device typically used for digital imaging (e.g. in electronic cameras).


‘Centre of mass’, coordinate system (or frame) (see Sect.  6.2.2).


‘Cold target recoil ion momentum spectroscopy’, see Appendix B.4.


‘Continuous wave’, (as opposed to pulsed) light beam, laser radiation etc.


‘Differential cross section’, see Sect.  6.2.1.


‘Electric dipole’, transitions induced by the interaction of an electric dipole with the electric field component of electromagnetic radiation.


‘Electron beam ion source’, source for highly charged ion beams see Sect. 7.5.


‘Electron beam ion trap’, source for highly charged ion beams see Sect. 7.5.


‘Electron cyclotron resonance’, used e.g. in sources for highly charged ion beams see Sect. 7.5.


Franck-Condon’, introduced an important approximation for optical transition between electronic states (see Sect.  5.4.1).


‘First order Born approximation’, approximation describing continuum wave functions by plane waves; used in collision theory and photoionization (see Sects.  6.6 and  5.5.2, Vol. 1, respectively).


‘Highly charged ions’, see Sect. 7.5.


Hartree-Fock’, method (approximation) for solving a multi-electron Schrödinger equation, including exchange interaction.


‘Highest occupied molecular orbital’.


Jeffreys-Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin’, semiclassical method to determine scattering phases.


‘Multi channel plate’, electron multiplier with many amplifying elements.


‘Molecular dynamics’, classical trajectory computations for molecular systems.


Møller-Plesset correction of 2nd order’, perturbative approach to correct HF energies for contributions from non-spherical repulsive potentials.


‘Ordinary differential equation’.


‘Quantum electrodynamics’, combines quantum theory with classical electrodynamics and special relativity. It gives a complete description of light-matter interaction.


‘Relativistic convergent close-coupling’, relativistic version of CCC calculations (including spin orbit interaction).


‘R-matrix with pseudo-states method’, advanced quantum mechanical theory for electron scattering.


‘Single electron capture’, see Sect. 7.5.1.


‘Velocity map imaging’, experimental method for registration (and visualization) of particle velocities as a function of their angular distribution (see Appendix B).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingolf V. Hertel
    • 1
  • Claus-Peter Schulz
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optikund KurzzeitspektroskopieBerlinGermany

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