Bremsstrahlung defined

Bremsstrahlung is a German term that means "braking rays." It is an important phenomenon in the generation of X-rays. In the Bremsstrahlung process, a high speed electron traveling in a material is slowed or completely stopped by the forces of any atom it encounters. As a high speed electron approaches an atom, it will interact with the negative force from the electrons of the atom, and it may be slowed or completely stopped. If the electron is slowed down, it will exit the material with less energy. The law of conservation of energy tells us that this energy cannot be lost and must be absorbed by the atom or converted to another form of energy. The energy used to slow the electron is excessive to the atom and the energy will be radiated as x-radiation of equal energy.

If the electron is completely stopped by the strong positive force of the nucleus, the radiated x-ray energy will have an energy equal to the total kinetic energy of the electron. This type of action occurs with very large and heavy nuclei materials. The new x-rays and liberated electrons will interact with matter in a similar fashion to produce more radiation at lower energy levels until finally all that is left is a mass of long wavelength electromagnetic wave forms that fall outside the x-ray spectrum.


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