This paper will give a rapid overview of the main experimental results concerning the effects of high electronic energy deposition in metallic targets and present a tentative model based on the Coulomb explosion mechanism. More detailed reviews have been made recently concerning both the experiments [1–3] and the theoretical model .
High levels of localized energy deposition in electronic excitation are easily obtained using GeV heavy ions which during their slowing-down typically transfer a few keV/Å to the electronic system of the target and a few eV/Å in elastic collisions with target nuclei. In insulators and organic materials, it is well-known that both slowing-down processes contribute to damage creation, whereas in metals it has been claimed for a long time that the sole nuclear collisions are involved in damage processes. Although this last assertion remains true for some metals such as Cu, Ag, W, Cu3Au …, high levels of electronic excitation can induce a partial annealing of the defects resulting from nuclear collisions in Fe, Ni, Nb, Pt…. lead to additional defect creation in Fe, Co, Zr, Ti…  or even to phase transformations in NiZr2 , Ni3B, NiTi , Ti … In the following, we shall only focuss on the last two effects.