Monday, July 9, 2012

Attempting to make X-rays by unrolling Scotch tape (negative result)

A few years ago, a research group posted a video showing that X-rays could be created by unrolling scotch tape in a vacuum. The idea is that the static charge generated by the mechanical unrolling process would cause electrons to accelerate to 50KV (or so), and then produce x-rays when they slam into something. I tried to recreate this experiment, but I had pretty weak results. I may need a much larger vacuum pump to keep the pressure in the chamber very low while unrolling.


  1. Hey Ben! I've been thinking about trying this for a while too (I vaguely remember talking with you about it at Maker Faire). It's unfortunate that it's not as easy as it looks...

    Apparently the scientists who did the original scotch-tape x-ray experiment were able to recreate it using a different mechanism that may be interesting to try as well. It involves repeatedly bringing an epoxy surface in and out of contact with a silicone membrane. Here's the link to the UCLA article:

    Good luck! Looking forward to whatever comes next!

    - Jordan

  2. How about a micro Van de Graaff with teflon and neophrene could use a stir bar for motion, washer rubber and you would need a charge brush or cylinder to contain and/or direct the charge focus.


  3. The researchers you mention... they're commercializing their system via a company called Tribogenics:

    An X-Ray Machine The Size Of An iPhone That Looks Like A Star Trek Tricorder:

  4. Here is the scientific paper and video of the researchers team. Maybe you can find some helpful information.