X-Rays Tutorial

X-rays were discovered by Roentgen in 1895. They are very useful in many ways and equally dangerous if you are exposed to them for longer periods. Our dentists can now tell us about the extent of the damage to our teeth, thanks to X - Rays. It is very widely used both in medicine and industry.

X - Rays occupies a place in the high-frequency end of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Its immediate neighbours are gamma rays and ultraviolet rays on the EM Spectrum.
The members of the EM Spectrum are Gamma rays, X-Rays, Ultraviolet, Visible light, Infrared, Microwaves and Radio waves - given by the acronym,
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The high frequency make them very penetrating and that in turn gives us the ability to look inside our bodies, in detail. The following diagram shows the structure of an X-ray machine.


The hot filament emits a stream of electrons. They are accelerated through a very high voltage between the cathode and anode. As a result, electron while moving at an extremely high speed - with matching kinetic energy - hit the tungsten target that is attached to the anode.

On impact, some of their energy is turned into electromagnetic rays known as X-rays and the most of the energy turns into heat. X-rays thus formed are used for medical purposes.

During this time, the heat generated at the anode is substantial. Therefore, getting rid of the excess heat is a serious issue. The cooling fins and the material of the anode help to remove it before it damages the apparatus.

The path of electrons has been made a vacuum to minimize their collision with air particles that may result in energy losses.

Please Follow the animation now.


Please answer the following questions.

  1. The beam of electron can be deflected by magnetic or electric fields, but not X-rays. Explain.
  2. The voltage of the hot filament determine the intensity of the X-ray beam - the greater the voltage, the more intense the beam is. Discuss this.
  3. The voltage between the cathode and anode determine the penetrating power of the X-rays - the shorter the wave length, the more penetrable. Do you see any relationship between the wavelength and power of penetration?
  4. The lead cover around the apparatus make sure there is vital for safety. Explain.
  5. The anode of an X - Ray machine is relatively big. What is the need for this?
  6. The cooling pins are attached to the anode. Explain their role.