Monday, July 9, 2012

Follow-up: Attempting to make X-rays by unrolling Scotch tape -- Success?

In this follow-up video, I show that I was able to get a P47 phosphor disc to illuminate when unrolling tape in the vacuum chamber. The blue x-ray intensifier screen did not illuminate although it was also in the chamber. Also, it seems the P47 was illuminated through a thin copper foil, though I will have to do some more tests to believe this.


  1. FYI... there has most certainly been a follow-up from the researcher's who originally developed this: they created a startup to commercialize it.

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

  2. Hi Ben, Three thoughts: 1) By adding a liquid nitrogen cold trap between the tape and diff pump you will greatly improve your static vacuum. Additionally, the volatiles released from the spooling tape will freeze-out much faster than if they were just swapped away by the diff pump, 2) Any electrons that fly away from the tape and impact metal (e.g. vac chamber, foil strip) might also produce x-rays, and 3) From reading around the web it would appear that the x-ray emission might be directional. The suggestion is that as the tape is peeled, electrons accumulate on the non-sticky surface and are accelerated toward the positively charged sticky surface. The x-rays result when the electrons decelerate (Bremsstrahlung radiation) in the adhesive/tape target. As such, the x-rays would possibly emanate perpendicular to the direction of the electron path, to form a plane of greater intensity parallel to the dis-adhesion line, with the greatest intensities at two locations at each side of the un-spooling tape along a line collinear to the dis-adhesion line. Cheers, Mark

  3. Nice experiment. A couple of things that would be cool to try would be using gorilla tape instead of scotch tape (it visibly sparks when you simply peel it) and using either charged strips or a magnetic field to redirect the electrons and distinguish them from xrays which do not react to the fields.

  4. I love these experiments, Ben! I would suggest you to take some long exposure shots (5-30s) of the whole contraption at work to show the light patterns in better detail. They'll look awesome, no matter what the final result is! :D

  5. Ben Krasnow
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    Want to communicate with you