We have determined the cross-section σ for color center generation under single Br ion impacts on amorphous SiO2. The evolution of the cross-sections, σ(E) and σ(Se), show an initial flat stage that we associate to atomic collision mechanisms. Above a certain threshold value (Se > 2 keV/nm), roughly coinciding with that reported for the onset of macroscopic disorder (compaction), σ shows a marked increase due to electronic processes. In this regime, a energetic cost of around 7.5 keV is necessary to create a non bridging oxygen hole center-E′ (NBOHC/E′) pair, whatever the input energy. The data appear consistent with a non-radiative decay of self-trapped excitons.

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