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Abstract

The technique of translational energy spectroscopy (TES) is described, whereby a collision of a fast ion (a few keV in energy) with a neutral target gas can reveal spectroscopic information on the states of the participating species. Information on the dynamics of the collision, lifetimes of species, collision cross-sections and populations of states can be revealed. Classification of collisional processes amenable to TES are given together with simple aspects of relevant collision theory, an appraisal of quantum selection rules for collisions, a description of typical high resolution instrumentation and two simple examples of TES experiments.