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- Theory of positron production in heavy-ion collisions (1981)
- Collisions of very heavy ions at energies close to the Coulomb barrier are discussed as a unique tool to study the behavior of the electron-positron field in the presence of strong external electromagnetic fields. To calculate the excitation processes induced by the collision dynamics, a semiclassical model is employed and adapted to describe the field-theoretical many-particle system. An expansion in the adiabatic molecular basis is chosen. Energies and matrix elements are calculated using the monopole approximation. In a supercritical (Z1+Z2≳173) quasiatomic system the 1s level joins the antiparticle continuum and becomes a resonance, rendering the neutral vacuum state unstable. Several methods of treating the corresponding time-dependent problem are discussed. A projection-operator technique is introduced for a fully dynamical treatment of the resonance. Positron excitation rates in s1/2 and p1/2 states are obtained by numerical solution of the coupled-channel equations and are compared with results from first- plus second-order perturbation theory. Calculations are performed for subcritical and supercritical collisions of Pb-Pb, Pb-U, U-U, and U-Cf. Strong relativistic deformations of the wave functions and the growing contributions from inner-shell bound states lead to a very steep Z dependence of positron production. The results are compared with available data from experiments done at GSI. Correlations between electrons and positrons are briefly discussed.