December 24, 2011

Characteristic Line Spectrum

Also previously known as the 'K and L in the graph'.

Previously, we were left with this 'hanging' piece of information:

The characteristic X-ray spectrum which consists of sharp peaks of high intensity occurs at specific wavelengths, unaffected by the voltage of the X-ray tube.
The peaks are a result of the electrons from the cathode knocking out inner shell electrons from the target atoms. When the vacant shells are refilled by free electrons, X-ray photons of specific wavelengths are emitted.
 Include the two MSpaint sketches of the mechanism behind the characteristic X-ray spectrum here.

The K and L in the previous graph each stand for their characteristic line series peaks respectively.

The K-series peaks consist of Ka and Kb. (assuming Ka = Kalpha and Kb= Kbeta for the sake of convenient typing/editing) These peaks occur when the innermost shell, the K-shell, is refilled by electrons from the outer shells. As a result, X-ray photons corresponding to the series are emitted. The figure above displays the transition responsible of the K-series peaks.

Similarly, The L-series peaks consist of La and Lb, and they occur when the second shell, the L-shell, is refilled by electrons from the outer shells.

The peaks are unique for each target element. In fact, an element can be identified from the peaks.



  1. Kinda over my head, but still interesting.

  2. This type of science is fascinating. I've been reading a lot of Quantum physics lately (school) and wave/particle diffusion and x-ray characteristics are so complex but are so interesting in how they function.


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