What will happen when X-rays are passed through a non-evacuated GLE? My teacher said that “The leaves would collapse due to ionization of air”. What does this mean?

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    $\begingroup$ The air becomes conductive. $\endgroup$
    – user137289
    Jan 4, 2018 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Pieter And then? Why do the leaves collapse? $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2018 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ Charge leaks away to the enclosure, to ground. (I have no direct experience, could try later today.) $\endgroup$
    – user137289
    Jan 4, 2018 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Pieter You mean you’ll actually do this thing with a gold leaf electroscope!? $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2018 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I could try to see what happens when I put a charged electroscope in our Leybold x-ray machine (rather weak x-ray intensity). But not today. $\endgroup$
    – user137289
    Jan 4, 2018 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


X-rays 'knock' one or more electrons from some of the air molecules, so the air is now partly ionised: there are positively charged ions and electrons (which may attach themselves to neutral molecules to make negative ions). The electrons (or negatively charged ions) are attracted to the leaf-and-plate assembly (if this had been positively charged) and surrender their excess electron(s), so gradually discharging the leaf and plate. The positive ions are attracted to the metal parts of the case of the electroscope, for these will have been charged negatively.


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