The Electron Beam process can achieve widely differing effects, such as sterilization, polymer modification, crosslinking and chain scission, via its action as an ionizing radiation.
In its simplest terms, the bombardment of a material with high-energy electrons results in a cascade of these electrons moving through the target material. These electrons are free to interact with molecules within the material, ejecting electrons from their orbits and generating free radicals. It is primarily the reactions of these species that are responsible for the ability of the beam to modify polymers. in the context of the electron beam sterilization capability. It is generally accepted that these same species induce breaks in the DNA double helix, preventing replication or expression, resulting in the ability to sterilize.