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Chemistry (including Biochemistry)/electrons into pure helium


please tell me, considering that helium is inert, if i have a sharp needle with HV DC emanating electrons into pure helium. the helium is surrounded by air (as the needle is in air having a stream of helium directed at it). will the electron bond to the helium and stay with the He or will the electrons in the helium disperse and separate from the helium, once the helium disperses into the air?
thank you,

Dear Gene:

My apologies for the delay.

In short, the electrons will disperse the first chance they get, most likely to O2, N2 or H2O.  This is due to the electron affinity. This is the ability to capture electrons, or more formally the energy associated with adding an electron.  Basically, while the electrons are ever more slightly happy being associated with He (forming He-)than they are when near nothing at all, they are much more inclined (in a lower energy state) to hang out near oxygen (and to some degree, nitrogen).  

You can certainly look up electron affinity at most chem wikis (UC Davis has a good one, as does the ChemGuide website... wikipedia does okay too).

I hope this helps!


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Dr. Jeffery Raymond


Materials chemistry. Materials science. Spectroscopy. Polymer science. Physical Chemistry. General Physics. Technical writing. General Applied Mathematics. Nanomaterials. Optoelectronic Behavior. Science Policy.


Teaching: General Inorganic Chemistry I & II, Organic Chemistry I & II, Physical Chemistry I, Polymeric Materials, General Physics I, Calculus I & II
My prior experience includes the United States Army and three years as a development chemist in industry. Currently I am the Assistant Director of the Laboratory for Synthetic Biological Interactions. All told, 13 years of experience in research, development and science education.

Texas A&M University, American Chemical Society, POLY-ACS, SPIE

Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nanoletters, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Ultramicroscopy Proceedings of SPIE, Proceedings of MRS, Polymer News, Chemical and Engineering News, Nano Letters, Small,, Angewandte

PhD Macromolecular Science and Engineering (Photophysics/Nanomaterials Concentration), MS Materials Science, BS Chemistry and Physics, Graduate Certificate in Science Policy, AAS Chemical Technology, AAS Engineering Technology

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