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How easy is it to ionize Nitrogen or oxygen with beta rays?

  1. Sep 29, 2015 #1
    Hello, over the past few days I've been looking at glowing ionization tubes on YouTube. there seems to be this innate correlation and association between ionization chambers and noble gasses, like xenon, argon and neon. i was wondering is it possible for oxygen or nitrogen to glow like them ?, both in a closed environment (tube), and in the open?. The only plausible explanation i can think of is that oxygen and nitrogen become unstable when stripped of electrons and will therefore quickly react with other nitrogen or oxygen atoms to regain that stable configuration. however is it possible to ionize them and maintain that glowing excited state? which are commonly seen in auroras. if so how much power is required, in terms of Mev or Ev classification?
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2015 #2
  4. Sep 29, 2015 #3
    Ionized Oxygen would be aggresively reactive with just about anything except noble gases.
    Probably the tube electrodes either a metal/alloy or Carbon would oxidise and break down quickly.
    Possibly even the glass tube could break down eventually even if given a durable electrode material.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  5. Sep 29, 2015 #4


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    Oxygen would indeed react with the metal electrodes, but air is apparently common in ionization chambers. Normally ionization detectors contain argon, although some might contain air if they are for low activities. Some ionization chambers may be open to the air/atmosphere, while others are sealed in which case they like contain gases like Ar.

    I remember using Ar or Ar-CH4 (so-called P10 gas) and BF3 detectors, with the latter being sensitive to neutrons.

    Some examples of Ar-filled detectors.
    http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/ionchamber/RS 111 Prototype.htm

    This document gives some insight into gas-filled radiation detectors, including ionization chambers, GM and proportional counters, and fill gases.
    https://www.science.mcmaster.ca/medphys/images/files/courses/4R06/4R6Notes3_GasFilled_Detectors.pdf [Broken]
    See 3.2 Proportional counters - the last 2 pages of Section B.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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