X-Rays are one of those rarest things in the world that’s done on almost everybody at some point in their lives, but still not understood properly by many people. Moreover, X-Ray generators are used not only in medical purposes but also in security, electronic assembly inspection, fluorescence and manufacturing.
But still, not many people understand how X- rays work, which is a weird thing. So in this essay we’ll try to explore this particular side of X-Rays Machines and How They Work. But before we do that, let’s take a look on brief history of X-rays:
The history and invention of X-rays
The X-Ray machine’s invention was actually an accidental discovery rather than something that came after years of research & development. In 1895 when German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen was doing some experiments with electron beam in a special tube, he observed a rather weird scenario.
The fluorescent screen in his lab started glowing when beam was turned on. And while this was not very surprising given the fact that fluorescent materials usually, glow in presence of electromagnetic radiation, what was surprising was the fact that heavy cardboard surrounding the film was not able to block the radiation from glowing the screen.
After this weird finding Roentgen replaced the cardboard with a number of objects. However, much to his surprise no matter which object he put to block the radiation it wasn’t successful in stopping the screen from glowing.
The big moment came when Roentgen place his hand in front of the electron beam coming from the tube to block it. When he did this, an image of bones inside his hand appeared on the fluorescent screen. And that way X-Rays were born.
How X-Ray Machine Works ?
The modern X-Ray machine works by producing a very thin beam of electrons. This beam is produced with the help of a vacuum tube containing a cathode and an anode.
The cathode directs a stream of electrons towards the anode, and the anode (made of tungsten) collects those electrons. As those electrons collide with the anode, a lot of energy is generated. Of this energy only 1% is released as X-rays, while remaining 99% turns into heat. The heat is then released by the tungsten-made anode, while X-rays are directed towards the part of body that needs to be analyzed in the X-ray.
The X-rays function in a manner very similar to the manner of a camera film. Since soft tissues of skin don’t absorb the high-energy rays of X-ray generators, the beam passes through them, thus leaving an image of our body’s internal parts on the screen. Since skin and tissues tend to be soft and thin, they fail to block the rays. However, dense materials like bones block the rays and absorb their radiation.
The parts of body that block the rays (i.e. bones etc.) appear on the fluorescent screen in white, while parts without any bone are shown in black as rays pass through them easily. And this combination paints a complete picture of our body’s internal structure on a fluorescent screen.
The X-Ray machine’s invention might’ve been a fluke of luck, but its role in the modern medical science and other areas is certainly not.
That role has come after years of understanding and practical application. Therefore, X-rays are certainly not something that can be taken for granted, which explains why they’re taught in great detail as part of
radiography. Anyone doing the study of radiography should pay special attention to the study of X-rays for a great career.