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Cloud Chamber Demonstration

  1. Apr 3, 2008 #1

    I'm attempting to make a condensation cloud chamber to display alpha and beta particle tracks to a class of school kids as part of my placement.

    I get how it all works but I'm having real trouble with two things...

    1) Finding a source of high purity alcohol.
    2) Getting hold of some dry ice.

    My questions are:

    Will using methylated spirits work instead of the recommended propanol and will liquid nitrogen serve as an acceptable replacement to dry ice. I know its cold enough but am worried it might be too cold.


  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2008 #2


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    I use ethanol, but then again, I get those rather easily here at the lab.

    Using liquid nitrogen might be too cold unless you pour them into some metal container and rest the chamber on top of it. You want something that can sustain the cold temperature for a while without causing the alcohol to freeze.

    You might also want to consider an anti-fogging liquid to wipe your chamber with. Depending on the humidity, you might not be able to see anything if your chamber becomes very cold due to the humidity condensing on your viewing area.

  4. Apr 3, 2008 #3
    Dry ice shouldn't be too much of a problem, it's in the yellow pages around here. Cloud chambers are pretty cool, it does make for a nifty demonstration. They do get foggy though. I don't know how well the anti-fog solution works, but I would give it a shot.

    Alcohols, hmm perhaps ask a nearby Chem department as to where they get theirs?

  5. Apr 4, 2008 #4
    Thanks very much, most appreciated!

    Your right that you can get dry ice out of the yellow pages, i just dont need 10Kg of it, which was their minimum order!

  6. Apr 4, 2008 #5
    Keep it around in a cooler, it'll stay for a while. There's lots of fun stuff you can do with dry ice :)
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