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Building a simple cosmic ray detector

  1. Oct 17, 2011 #1
    During a visit to CERN (more precisely:ATLAS) I got the idea of building a cosmic ray detector from the guide (who was a full time researcher there). The detector would look like a small rectangle with colored stripes going trough it about once a few seconds to signal the path of the muons (which I hear are the easiest to detect). I got a very general outline of how one would work from her.

    The idea is to have two conductive plates connected to a battery and separated by a gas. When the high energy particles rush through the gas, they should ionize it, making it possible for a current to flow through the gas from one plate to another. This flow should supply the ions in the gas with energy to emit light and thus show the path of the muon. The process is similar to that of a Geiger-Müller tube. I see no problem with this concept, but please correct me if needed.

    The major problem here is to find the right materials. I need a see through conductor to make the plates out of, because if it is opaque the whole device would be useless (you couldn't see the path of the ray through the plate). The gas is also a problem. It needs to be safe (as in not harmful to animals or humans), have a low enough ionization energy and emit a colored light when the exited atoms drop down an energy level after the spark.

    So the question here are: "What are some materials I should look into?" and if the machine I've thought will work in real life.

    PS. I'm not sure if this is the best place for this thread, please move it if it is not
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  2. jcsd
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