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Electron-Atom Scattering Dynamics - Prof. P.W. Zetner
Electron-atom collision physics is important from the standpoints of both practical applications and fundamental science. Such collisions play an important role in, for example, astrophysical plasmas (planetary ionospheres, emission nebulae), fusion and semiconductor-etching plasmas, high-density gas discharges (lighting and display technology), electron-beam and discharge-pumped lasers, radiation dosimetry detectors, etc. On a fundamental level, although the basic interaction governing such collisions is electromagnetic and well-understood, theoretical approaches must contend with multi-electron, atomic wave functions (the quantum "many-body problem") and involve the solution of an infinite set of coupled differential equations of motion which must be treated in some approximate fashion. Experiments, such as those conducted in our laboratory, are essential to provide theorists with some "benchmark" data against which their various models and approximations can be tested.