|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (November 2009)|
Atomic recoil is the result of the interaction of an atom with an energetic elementary particle, when the momentum of the interacting particle is transferred to the atom as whole without altering non-translational degrees of freedom of the atom. It is a purely quantum phenomenon. Atomic recoil was discovered by Harriet Brooks, Canada's first female nuclear physicist.
Another form is the nuclear recoil, when momentum transfers to the atomic nucleus as whole.