Excitation and ionisation cross-sections in condensed-phase biomaterials by electrons down to very low energy: application to liquid water and genetic building blocks†
Electronic excitations and ionisations produced by electron impact are key processes in the radiation-induced damage mechanisms in materials of biological relevance, underlying important medical and technological applications, including radiotherapy, radiation protection in manned space missions and nanodevice fabrication techniques. However, experimentally measuring all the necessary electronic interaction cross-sections for every relevant material is an arduous task, so it is necessary having predictive models, sufficiently accurate yet easily implementable. In this work we present a model, based on the dielectric formalism, to provide reliable ionisation and excitation cross-sections for electron-impact on complex biomolecular media, considering their condensed-phase nature. We account for the indistinguishability and exchange between the primary beam and excited electrons, for the molecular electronic structure effects in the electron binding, as well as for low-energy corrections to the first Born approximation. The resulting approach yields total ionisation cross-sections, energy distributions of secondary electrons, and total electronic excitation cross-sections for condensed-phase biomaterials, once the electronic excitation spectrum is known, either from experiments or from a predictive model. The results of this methodology are compared with the available experimental data in water and DNA/RNA molecular building blocks, showing a very good agreement and a great predictive power in a wide range of electron incident energies, from the large values characteristic of electron beams down to excitation threshold. The proposed model constitutes a very useful procedure for computing the electronic interaction cross-sections for arbitrary biological materials in a wide range of electron incident energies.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2021 PCCP HOT Articles