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What are X-rays?

March 25, 2012  by: Ankit Neerav  Points: 12   Category: General Science  Earning $0.40   Views: 580

X rays- their discovery, production, types and applications.


The Discovery of X rays:

X rays were discoverd by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. In his experiment on electrical discharge through a gas, he found that when pressure in the discharge gas tube is reduced to 0.01 mm of Hg, the glass wall behind the cathode begins to glow with a greenish yellow colour. When he covered the tube with black cardboard, he noticed that the paper screen coated with zinc sulphide (ZnS) brilliantly lighted up and continued to show fluorescence.

Origin of X rays:

X rays are produced when a high speed beam of electrons strike a target metal sheet of very high atomic number. When a high speed electron penetrates into a target element's atom then due to the high positive charge of the target nucleus the incident electron is attracted towards it. As a result of this electrostaic attraction the electron is deflected and gets slowed down. This loss in energy of incident electron is emitted es X rays. X rays are a type of electromagnetic waves have wavelength of around 1 angstron .

Types of X rays:

There are two types of X rays generally produced:
1. Characteristic X rays.
2. Continuous X rays.

# Characteristic X rays: The characteristic spectrum is produced due to removal of an electron from the inner shell of target atom by incident high speed radiation. This kind of spectrum consists of K-lines, M-lines and L-lines. This line spectrum is characteristic of the target material used because frequency of each component of the given line depends on the atomic number of the target.

# Continuous X rays: The continuous spectrum is produced due to Bremsstrahlung effect by the deacceleration of high speed electrons due to deflection by high positive charge of the nucleus. In case of continuous spectrum two characteristic lines of K-alpha and K-beta are produced.

Applications of X rays:

Research purposes- X rays are used to determine the crystal structure of crystalline solids by several experimental methods such as Laue method, Powder method and Rotating Crystal method.
Examination of luggage- Sensitive places or crowded places like the airport are often fitted with X ray detectors to detect metals in the form of weapons, banned substances etc.
Industrial purposes- X ray equipment are installed in industries to scan completed metal works for cracks or other deficiencies.
Medical uses- X-rays are widely used in the field of medicine to reveal the architecture of the human or animal bone and other soft tissues. It is also used to find out any abnormality in the form of fractures, growth of tumors etc inside the human body. It is also used in dentistry for dental imaging for procedures such as root canal treatmant.


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