heavy ion

noun
the nucleus of a heavy element.
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heavy ion  
  1. The nucleus of a heavy element, such as gold. Collisions of heavy ions are induced in particle accelerators to explore the internal structure quark structure of the nuclei; recent experiments suggest that the extremely high temperatures generated by such collisions can create a short-lived plasma of quarks and gluons.

  2. A charged microscopic particle that forms when ions attach to a dust mote or similar object.


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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

heavy ion

in nuclear physics, any particle with one or more units of electric charge and a mass exceeding that of the helium-4 nucleus (alpha particle). Special types of accelerators are capable of producing fairly intense, high-energy beams of heavy ions, which are used in basic research, as in the production of synthetic transuranium elements (e.g., hahnium [atomic number 105]).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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