Hi,

There are a few people (e.g., Robin) who may be able to comment on this
possibility:

I have wondered about the following possibility for fission under
asymmetric electron screening:  Consider a moderate to heavy nucleus. In
heavy nuclei, the balance between the Coulomb force and the residual
nuclear force is a very delicate one. The sensitivity of this balance can
be seen in the case of alpha emission in oblong deformed nuclei, where
alpha particles are more likely to be emitted at the poles of the nucleus,
where the Coulomb barrier is thinner, than at the waste. I propose that if
you could get nontrivial asymmetric electron screening for any amount of
time, e.g., a gradient of electron density in which the nucleus momentarily
resides, the tidal forces caused by the differential balance of nuclear and
Coulomb forces on either side of the nucleus would cause the it to become
unstable and liable to fission.

Not sure how plausible this idea is, but it's an interesting one to think
about.

Eric

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