runaway electronsmedical dictionary

<radiobiology> Those electrons in a plasma that gain energy from an applied electrical field at a faster rate than they lose it through collisions with other particles.

These electrons tend to run away in energy (not position) from the cooler remainder of the background plasma, because the collision cross-section decreases as the particle's velocity increases, so that the faster the particle goes, the less likely it is to be stopped.

See: collision cross-section.

(17 Dec 1997)

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