ionization potential

or ionization energy

Amount of energy required to remove an electron from an isolated atom or molecule. There is an ionization potential for each successive electron removed, though that associated with removing the first (most loosely held) electron is most commonly used. The ionization potential of an element is a measure of its ability to enter into chemical reactions requiring ion formation or donation of electrons and is related to the nature of the chemical bonding in the compounds formed by elements. Seealso binding energy, ionization.

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Process by which electrically neutral atoms or molecules are converted to electrically charged atoms or molecules (ions) by the removal or addition of negatively charged electrons. It is one of the principal ways in which radiation transfers energy to matter, and hence of detecting radiation. In general, ionization occurs whenever sufficiently energetic charged particles or radiant energy travels through gases, liquids, or solids. A certain minimal level of ionization is present in the earth's atmosphere because of continuous absorption of cosmic rays from space and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

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