Fragmentation channels of large multicharged clusters

Isidore Last*, Yaakov Levy, Joshua Jortner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We address unifying features of fragmentation channels driven by long-range Coulomb or pseudo-Coulomb forces in clusters, nuclei, droplets, and optical molasses. We studied the energetics, fragmentation patterns, and dynamics of multicharged (A+) n (n=55, 135, 321) clusters. In Morse clusters the variation of the range of the pair-potential induced changes in the cluster surface energy and in the fissibility parameter X=E (Coulomb) 2E (surface). X was varied in the range of X=1-8 for short-range interactions and of X=0.1-1.0 for long-range interactions. Metastable cluster configurations were prepared by vertical ionization of the neutral clusters and by subsequent structural equilibration. The energetics of these metastable ionic clusters was described in terms of the liquid drop model, with the coefficients of the volume and surface energies depending linearly on the Morse band dissociation energy. Molecular-dynamics simulations established two distinct fragmentation patterns of multicharged clusters that involve cluster fission into a small number of large, multicharged clusters for X<1 and Coulomb explosion into a large number of individual ions and small ionic fragments for X≥1. The Rayleigh instability limit X=1 separates between spatially anisotropic fission and spatially isotropic Coulomb explosion. Distinct features of the fragmentation energetics and dynamics were unveiled. For fission of n=55 clusters, large kinetic and internal energies of the large fragments are exhibited and the characteristic fragmentation time is ∼700 fs, while for Coulomb explosion the major energy content of the small fragments involves kinetic energy and the characteristic fragmentation time of ∼300 fs is shorter. The Rayleigh (X=1) limit, leading to isotropic Coulomb explosion, is transcended by a marked enhancement of the Coulomb energy, which is realized for extremely ionized clusters in ultraintense laser fields, or by a dramatic reduction of the surface energy as is the case for the expansion of optical molasses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154301
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2005


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