Physics E&M

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A Geiger counter detects radiation such as alpha particles by using the fact that the radiation ionizes the air along its path. A thin wire lies on the axis of a hollow metal cylinder and is insulated from it. View Figure A large potential difference is established between the wire and the outer cylinder, with the wire at a higher potential; this sets up a strong electric field directed radially outward. When ionizing radiation enters the device, it ionizes a few air molecules. The free electrons produced are accelerated by the electric field toward the wire and, on the way there, ionize many more air molecules. Thus a current pulse is produced that can be detected by appropriate electronic circuitry and converted into an audible click. Suppose the radius of the central wire is 145 micrometers and the radius of the hollow cylinder is 1.80 centimeters.

What potential difference V_wc between the wire and the cylinder produces an electric field of 2.00e^4 volts per meter at a distance of 1.20 centimeters from the axis of the wire? (Assume that the wire and cylinder are both very long in comparison to their radii.)

  • Physics E&M -

    Treat the geiger counter as a cylindrical capacitor. The formulas you need to solve this problem can be found at
    http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/capcyl.html
    The E field at radius r can be used to calculate the charge per unit length on the wire. The capacitance C per unit length is determined by the geometry. Once you have C and the charge per unit length, the Voltage is Q/C

  • Physics E&M -

    thanks i normally look at that site but I wasn't thinking capacitors

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