### Abstract

Possible proximity effects in gases of cold, multiply charged atoms are discussed. Here we deal with rarefied gases with densities nd of multiply charged (Z ≫ 1) atoms at low temperatures in the well-known Thomas-Fermi (TF) approximation, which can be used to evaluate the statistical properties of single atoms. In order to retain the advantages of the TF formalism, which is successful for symmetric problems, the external boundary conditions accounting for the finiteness of the density of atoms (donors), nd ≠ 0, are also symmetrized (using a spherical Wigner-Seitz cell) and formulated in a standard way that conserves the total charge within the cell. The model shows that at zero temperature in a rarefied gas of multiply charged atoms there is an effective long-range interaction E
proxi(nd), the sign of which depends on the properties of the outer shells of individual atoms. The long-range character of the interaction E
proxi is evaluated by comparing it with the properties of the well-known London dispersive attraction E
Lond(nd) < 0, which is regarded as a long-range interaction in gases. For the noble gases argon, krypton, and xenon E
proxi>0 and for the alkali and alkaline-earth elements E
proxi < 0. At finite temperatures, TF statistics manifests a new, anomalously large proximity effect, which reflects the tendency of electrons localized at Coulomb centers to escape into the continuum spectrum. The properties of thermal decay are interesting in themselves as they determine the important phenomenon of dissociation of neutral complexes into charged fragments. This phenomenon appears consistently in the TF theory through the temperature dependence of the different versions of E
proxi. The anomaly in the thermal proximity effect shows up in the following way: for T ≠ 0 there is no equilibrium solution of TS statistics for single multiply charged atoms in a vacuum when the effect is present. Instability is suppressed in a Wigner-Seitz model under the assumption that there are no electron fluxes through the outer boundary R
^{3} ∝ n
^{−1}
d of a Wigner-Seitz cell. E
proxi corresponds to the definition of the correlation energy in a gas of interacting particles. This review is written so as to enable comparison of the results of the TF formalism with the standard assumptions of the correlation theory for classical plasmas. The classic example from work on weak solutions (including charged solutions)—the use of semi-impermeable membranes for studies of osmotic pressure—is highly appropriate for problems involving E
proxi. Here we are speaking of one or more sharp boundaries formed by the ionic component of a many-particle problem. These may be a metal-vacuum boundary in a standard Casimir cell in a study of the vacuum properties in the 2l gap between conducting media of different kinds or different layered systems (quantum wells) in semiconductors, etc. As the mobile part of the equilibrium near a sharp boundary, electrons can (should) escape beyond the confines of the ion core into a gap 2l with a probability that depends, among other factors, on the properties of Eproxi for the electron cloud inside the conducting walls of the Casimir cell (quantum well). The analog of the Casimir sandwich in semiconductors is the widely used multilayer heterostructures referred to as quantum wells of width 2l with sides made of suitable doped materials, which ensure statistical equilibrium exchange of electrons between the layers of the multilayer structure. The thermal component of the proximity effects in semiconducting quantum wells provides an idea of many features of the dissociation process in doped semiconductors. In particular, a positive E
proxi > 0 (relative to the bottom of the conduction band) indicates that TF donors with a finite density nd ≠ 0 form a degenerate, semiconducting state in the semiconductor. At zero temperature, there is a finite density of free carriers which increases with a power-law dependence on T.

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