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Production and Properties of X-Rays
Production  
X-rays are produced when fast moving electrons hit a piece of metal (called the target).  
   
The diagram below shows the basic structure of an x-ray tube.  
   
 
   
Electrons are emitted by the filament (cathode) when it is heated by the low voltage supply.  
The electrons are then accelerated by the high voltage and sent towards the target.  
The accelerating voltage is around 100kV.  
Less than 1% of the kinetic energy of the electrons is converted into x-rays.  
The other 99% is converted to internal energy of the target (it gets hot) so it must be cooled during operation.  
For more detail see also x-ray spectra.  
   
Properties  
X-rays were first studied in detail by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895.  
X-rays are not deflected by electric or magnetic fields but can be diffracted suggesting that they have wave-like properties but no electric charge.  
We now know that x-rays are electro-magnetic radiations having wavelengths in the range 10-11m to 10-8m.  
   
X-rays cause certain substances to fluoresce, they affect photographic emulsions and can ionize atoms.  
These three properties can be used to detect x-rays.  
   
The intensity of the beam of x-rays (Wm-2) depends on the number of electrons hitting the target per unit time.  
This depends on the temperature of the filament.  
X-rays can penetrate significant quantities of matter but can be absorbed by thick sheets of dense material, for example, lead.  
The penetrating power of the beam of x-rays depends on the kinetic energy of the electrons hitting the target.  
This depends on the accelerating voltage.  
   
X-rays are absorbed to a different extent by different materials which is why they are useful in various imaging situations; one of the most common uses being to view inside the body to observe broken bones etc.  
 
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