Inelastic mean free path
The inelastic mean free path (IMFP) is an index of how far an electron can travel through a solid before losing energy.
If a monochromatic primary beam of electrons is incident on a solid surface, the majority of incident electrons lose their energy because they interact strongly with matter, leading to plasmon excitation, electron-hole pair formation, and vibrational excitation. The intensity of the primary electrons, , is damped as a function of the distance, , into the solid. The intensity decay can be expressed as follows:
where is the intensity after the primary electron beam has traveled through the solid. The parameter , termed the inelastic mean free path (IMFP), is defined as the distance an electron beam can travel before its intensity decays to of its initial value.
- R. F. Egerton (1996) Electron energy-loss spectroscopy in the electron microscope (Second Edition, Plenum Press, NY) ISBN 0-306-45223-5
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