Femtosecond dynamics – snapshots of the early ion-track evolution
The energy dissipation and femtosecond dynamics due to fast heavy ions in matter is critically reviewed with emphasis on possible mechanisms that lead to material modifications. Starting from a discussion of the initial electronic energy-deposition processes, three basic mechanisms for the conversion of electronic into atomic energy are investigated by means of Auger-electron spectroscopy. Results for amorphous Si, amorphous C and polypropylene are presented and discussed. Experimental evidence for a highly charged track region as well as for hot electrons inside tracks is shown. As follows mainly from Auger-electron spectroscopy, there are strong indications for different track-production mechanisms in different materials.