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ZhETF, Vol. 125, No. 5, p. 1058 (May 2004)
(English translation - JETP, Vol. 98, No. 5, p. 924, May 2004 available online at )

Gordon E.B., Smirnov B.M.

Received: December 17, 2003

PACS: 34.80.-i, 52.80.Wq, 52.80.Yr, 79.20.Kz

DJVU (146.5K) PDF (297.4K)

Drift of an excess electron in dense and condensed inert gases in external electric field and excitation of atoms by electron impact in these systems are analyzed. The effective potential energy surface for an excess electron at a given electric field strength consists of wells and hills, and the actions of neighboring atoms are therefore separated by saddles of the potential energy. At the atomic densities such that the difference of interaction potentials for an excess electron between neighboring wells and hills of the potential energy surface becomes small, the electron mobility is large. This is realized for heavy inert gases (Ar, Kr, Xe) with a negative scattering length of the electron on individual atoms. In these cases, the average potential energy of the electron interaction with atoms corresponds to attraction at low atomic densities and to repulsion at high densities. The transition from attraction to repulsion at moderate atomic densities leads to the maximum of the electron mobility. A gas model for the electron drift in condensed inert gases is constructed on the basis of this character of interaction. Due to high electron mobility, condensed inert gases provide high efficiency of transformation of the electric field energy into the energy of emitting photons through drifting electrons. It is shown that although the role of formation of autodetaching states in the course of the electron drift is more important for condensed inert gases than for rare gases, this effect acts weakly on exciton production at optimal atomic densities. The parameters of a self-maintained electric discharge in condensed inert gases as a source of ultraviolet radiation are discussed from the standpoint of electron drift processes.

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