The Coulomb dissociation process, induced by the intense source of quasi-real photons acting as nuclear particles pass through the field of a heavy nucleus, has attracted a great deal of attention. As a specific application, and as a means of access to the time-reversed radiative-capture reactions, which are of astrophysical interest at stellar energies, this process provides several advantages, based on larger cross sections and on the flexibilities of the breakup kinematics. Difficulties in the analysis arise from possible interference by nuclear interactions and final-state effects through multiphoton exchange (postacceleration), which need careful consideration. A number of theoretical and experimental investigations that have been performed, since the introduction of this novel approach have provided interesting new information, resulting in an improved and detailed understanding of the experimental conditions, and of the theoretical basis of the method. The progress in experiment and theory is reviewed, and various cases of actual interest and current applications are discussed.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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