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An Introduction to Gas Discharges by A. M. Howatson (Auth.)

By A. M. Howatson (Auth.)

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5) In Fig. 7, eqn. 5) is evidently satisfied for the point at which the tangent to a curve passes through the origin; the condition therefore specifies a unique point on each curve, and to this is given the name Stoletow point. The actual pressure at which it occurs in any gas depends on the field strength E. If φ is of the form given by eqn. 4) it may be readily shown that the Stoletow point occurs at E/p = B. 2. EFFECT OF SPACE CHARGE In measuring a, or in verifying eqns. 4), the electric field must be uniform.

At ground level the atmosphere contains an average in the order of 1000 positive and negative ions per cm 3 due to ultraviolet and cosmic radiation and radioactivity. The rate of ionization which maintains this number is in the range 2-10 c m - 1 s _ 1 . If two electrodes are set up, they emit a few electrons from the same causes. The rate of ionization in the gas and emission from the electrodes can of course be greatly increased by using laboratory radiation sources of sufficient frequency. In the absence of an electric field, there is an equilibrium in which the rate of production of charged particles is just balanced by the rate of recombination.

The inverse of δ is the fraction of all collisions which results in attachment, or the probability of attachment per collision, h. The affinity of an electronegative particle for an electron is analogous to ionization or dissociation, is measured in electron volts and is usually of the order of 1 eV. When attachment takes place, both this energy and the kinetic energy of the electron must somehow be dissipated. This may be done either by radiation, or by giving both immediately as kinetic energy to a third body (conservation of momentum does not allow it to go to the ion itself) or, in the case of molecules, by dissociation.

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