Physics

Hollow atoms: The consequences of an underestimated effect

In a 'hollow atom', electrons occupy high-energy states far away from the nucleus, it can get rid of their excess energy on a remarkably short timescale. The reason for this has been unknown. Researchers have now shown that this is due to a previously underestimated effect: the 'interatomic coulomb decay' allows the atom to transfer its energy to several other atoms simultaneously. This also explains why radiation therapy can be so effective.