Thermal spike analysis of highly charged ion tracks
The irradiation of material using swift heavy ion or highly charged ion causes excitation of the electron subsystem at nanometer scale along the ion trajectory. According to the thermal spike model, energy deposited into the electron subsystem leads to temperature increase due to electron–phonon coupling. If ion-induced excitation is sufficiently intensive, then melting of the material can occur, and permanent damage (i.e., ion track) can be formed upon rapid cooling. We present an extension of the analytical thermal spike model of Szenes for the analysis of surface ion track produced after the impact of highly charged ion. By applying the model to existing experimental data, more than 60% of the potential energy of the highly charged ion was shown to be retained in the material during the impact and transformed into the energy of the thermal spike. This value is much higher than 20–40% of the transferred energy into the thermal spike by swift heavy ion. Thresholds for formation of highly charged ion track in different materials show uniform behavior depending only on few material parameters.