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A cloud chamber is a detector which

displays the tracks of charged

Basic working principles of
a cloud chamber :
• The felt strip round the top is
soaked with alcohol.This causes
the air in the chamber to be
• The colling unit beneath the
chamber floor is filled withdry ice
which cools the bottom of the
chamber to around -80 C.As a
result the air in the chamber
becomes supersaturated.
• A source of radioactive particles
is placed inside.The particle of
radiation ionises the air in its
• The ions allow the vapour to
condense forming tiny alcohol
• The trail of alcohol droplets is
visible because it reflects light
from the lamp.
Tracks produced by alpha particle

• The alpha tracks

are thick and
This shows that
alpha particles
have the
strongest ionising
power and the
biggest mass.
Tracks produced by beta particles

• The beta tracks

are thin and
curvy.This shows
that beta
particles have
low ionising
power and small
Tracks produced by gamma rays

• Their tracks are

short,curvy and
spiky from the
middle.It shows that
it has the lowest
ionising power.
• The number of radioactive tracks
produced will decrease after a while
because after some time the
condensation of alcohol vapour on the
radioactive source will block the
emission of radioactive rays.