The main research activity of the Section of Atomic Collisions is the study of fast atomic collisions. We mostly use accelerators for production of fast particles, therefore our research field is often called as "accelerator-based atomic physics". The basic collision processes are as follows:
- electron capture (charge-exchange)
We are mainly interested in the dynamical aspect of the collision. The most direct information on the dynamics can be obtained by observing the primarily ejected electrons having continuous energy distribution. The dynamics – particularly for the ionization of inner atomic shells – can also be studied by detection of the decay products (photons, Auger- or autoionization electrons) emitted from the excited states. In our research of the collision dynamics we use both approaches, applying the methods of x-ray and electron spectrometry.
The primary aim of the investigations is the better understanding of the dynamics of the fast atomic collisions by studying, first of all, collisions involving a few particles. Furthermore, by performing electron- and x-ray spectroscopic measurements of the atomic (molecular) states excited in the collisions, we wish to explore more deeply the electronic structure of the atoms and molecules. Besides the investigations of the simple collision systems carried out on free atoms and molecules, we study also the interactions of more complex systems, like the collisions of photons, electrons, light and heavy ions with solids. As a further example, we may mention our research work exploring the properties of some mesoscopic systems (fullerene molecules, micro-capillaries).
Our approach is primarily experimental, but the theoretical work carried out in connection with our own and other's experiments is also remarkable.
A significant part of the activity of the Section of Atomic Collisions is the development of new research instruments methods. Due to the experimental character of most of the research work, this activity primarily implies the development of experimental tools, first of all, construction of electron spectrometers. At the same time, it is worth mentioning the development of the theoretical methods for the description of the various collision processes, too.