Low-energy positron interactions with atoms and molecules

C.M. Surko, G. F. Gribakin, S.J. Buckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is a review of low-energy positron interactions with atoms and molecules. Processes of interest include elastic scattering, electronic and vibrational excitation, ionization, positronium formation and annihilation. An overview is presented of the currently available theoretical and experimental techniques to study these phenomena, including the use of trap-based positron beam sources to study collision processes with improved energy resolution. State-resolved measurements of electronic and vibrational excitation cross sections and measurement of annihilation rates in atoms and molecules as a function of incident positron energy are discussed. Where data are available, comparisons are made with analogous electron scattering cross sections. Resonance phenomena, common in electron scattering, appear to be less common in positron scattering. Possible exceptions include the sharp onsets of positron-impact electronic and vibrational excitation of selected molecules. Recent energy-resolved studies of positron annihilation in hydrocarbons containing more than a few carbon atoms provide direct evidence that vibrational Feshbach resonances underpin the anomalously large annihilation rates observed for many polyatomic species. We discuss open questions regarding this process in larger molecules, as well as positron annihilation in smaller molecules where the theoretical picture is less clear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R57-R126
Number of pages70
JournalJournal of Physics B: Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Low-energy positron interactions with atoms and molecules'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this