Scotch Tape X-Rays

How the Scotch tape X-rays works. (10/24/2008)


Scotch Tape X-ray Machine Quite a surprise, Isn't? Just imagine: You are in a place where is no electricity and need an X-ray to determine if you have a broken bone. So, here comes the doctor with a scotch tape to take a X-ray.


Well, It is possible. Researchers have found a new use for clear sticky tape -- it produces X-rays when it is peeled off the roll.


When I was a child, I found that unwinding sticky tape produces sparks of light when in complete dark. The phenomenon is called triboluminescence and is caused by the movement of one surface against another. I didn't know it back in those days, I just saw an interesting green glowing from the tape.


Now, After reading about it on the news, It makes sense. I guess the green glow is part of x-rays being emmited. In a vacuum chamber, it can be used to make X-ray images.


Let's remember how X-rays were discovered:


The discovery was accidentally done by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895 when he was experimenting with a gas-discharge tube. He noticed some glowing from a fluorescent paper in the room. He knew there was an unknown rays coming from the tube. He called those rays as X-rays. The "X" stood for unknown, because the radiation was so mysterious. So, That name has been used ever since.


As soon he found that x-rays would pass through some materials, including the soft tissues of the body, Roentgen started to make images on a photographic film.


X-rays are typically created or generated by aiming a high energy electron beam at a metal target. X-rays are given off as a result of the collision. This is usually done in an evacuated tube.


Here is how a X-ray machine works:


How X-ray machine works


Inside a glass bulb, there is an "Anode" and "Catode". The catode emits electrons coming from a high-voltage. Inside the bulb, X-rays are produced after the electrons collides in the anode and directed to the film that will produce an image of the bones.


So, here is how a "Scotch Tape X-ray Machine" works:


Tape X-ray machine


Unwinding the tape inside a sealed vacuum chamber will produce the x-rays. The tape can be unwinded using motors inside the chamber and connected to the outside by wires. Once the X-rays are produced, it will be directed to the object and the film. The amount of X-rays can be controlled by unwinding the tape by certain amount of time. For example: Three seconds unwinding the tape will be enough to get a X-ray of the hand. Eight seconds will be enough to get an X-rays of your body.1


Please note this information is for educational purposes and doesn't mean that I already build the machine. X-rays are dangerous and are no good for the health. Olny qualified persons can work with X-rays.


Here is a brief video showing how it works:



Oh, by the way, If you are not so young and knows the early Televisions were not so flat as today's TVs, you may remember your parents telling you "Don't sit too close in front of the TV!". The reason was because the TV tube basically is an X-ray chamber and back in the early TV days a lot of radiation was coming from it. Today's Televisions contains safety features and X-radiation is low. But anyway, Don't sit too close in front of the TV!


1 The times indicated are only examples.



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