CHEM - A process by which a neutral atom or molecule loses or gains electrons, thereby acquiring a net charge and becoming an ion; occurs as the result of the dissociation of the atoms of a molecule in solution (NaCl->Na+ + Cl-) or of a gas in an electric field (H2->2H+). [McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Science & Technical Terms 3rd ed.]

The splitting up of molecules into ions. Ionization may apply either to a chemical compound or to a gas. When an electric current is passed through an electrolyte the constituents of the electrolyte which are liberated or deposited at the electrodes are called ions and this process is called ionization. Gases at or near atmospheric pressure are normally good insulators. They are said to undergo ionization when they are made conductive, that is when they allow the flow of electricity. A gas may be made conductive by passing X-rays? through it, by the action of ultraviolet light, by subjecting it to radium? rays, by passing it close to a flame or hot piece of metal or by forming in it a brush discharge or corona?. Gases which have been made conductive carry current because of their dissociation into ions, which carry positive or negative charges of electricity. [Gernsback, Sidney, Radio Encyclopedia, 1927]

See Also

12.32 - Ionization
Atomic Cluster Ionization
Ionization Energy
Penning Ionization

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