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Potash regulated X-ray tube, England, 1897-1907

An X-ray tube consists of a cathode (negative electrode) and an anode (positive electrode). Electrodes are emitted from the cathode. They flow to the anode plate generating X-rays when in a vacuum. The completeness of the vacuum inside early X-ray tubes affected its output. This could vary during use. Incorporating potash (potassium carbonate) in a side tube attempted to control this. When the vacuum became too high, heating the potash released a little gas, which lowered it. X-rays were discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in November 1895.

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Glossary: x-ray tube

The part of an X-ray machine that produces X-rays. The tube itself operates under vacuum conditions.

Glossary: x-rays

A wave of electromagnetic radiation that has high energy and short wavelength. It is able to pass through many materials, except those of high density such as metals or bones. Discovered in 1895 by William Roentgen.