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Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation

Cathode Rays
The Wave-Particle Debate
Explain why the apparent inconsistent behaviour of cathode rays caused debate as to whether they were
charged particles or electromagnetic waves
Cathode rays are streams of electrons.
They appeared to exhibit both particle and wave characteristics.
The evidence which seemed to suggest particle behavior was:

Rays were affected by magnetic fields

Rays were able to turn a light paddle wheel
o Wave theorists theorised that the wheel was heated by contact with light
Rays left the cathode at right angles to the cathode
Rays travelled more slowly than light

The evidence which seemed to suggest wave behavior was:

Rays travelled in straight lines


Glow was seen at the bend, proving rays travelled in straight lines
KEY: Rays were not deflected by electric fields
Rays were able to penetrate foil without damage
Rays would create shadows of opaque objects

Issue was eventually resolved by J.J Thomson who explained the lack of electron field deflection

Cathodes rays ionized gas. These ionized gas particles were attracted to the plates of
opposite charge. This caused a build of ionized gas particles at the respective plates,
neutralising the charge of the plates

When the experiment was repeated in an evacuated vacuum tube, the cathode ray was
seen to deflect.

Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation

Cathode Ray Tubes

Explain that cathode ray tubes allowed the manipulations of a stream of charged particles
A cathode ray tube is a sealed glass from which most of the air is removed by a vacuum

pump. A beam of electrons travels from the cathode to the anode and can be deflected
by electrical or magnetic fields.

By controlling the pressure of gas within the tube, the stream of particles could be
manipulated. At low pressure, the electrons accelerate faster before colliding with gas
particles. After colliding and ionizing the gas particles, they accelerate again. During this
acceleration period, a dark space appears. Even when it can be seen however, current is
still flowing. This ionization appears at the stead luminous discharge.
As pressure decreases further, the electrons continually accelerate and decelerate
producing the bright striation pattern.
The colour of the discharge is dependant on the gas used, and the polarity.
Properties of Cathode Rays
Perform an investigation to demonstrate and identify properties of cathode rays using discharge tubes:
Containing a maltese cross
Containing electric plates
With a fluorescent display screen
Containing a glass wheel
Analyse the information gathered to determine the sign of the charge on cathode rays
Property Origin of Ray

Was to determine whether the ray originated from the anode or cathode.

Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation

A metal cross was placed in the centre of the tube. The cross glowed and its shadow was
observed on the anode side. Concluded the rays were produced at the cathode.
Property Electroproperties of The Cathode Ray

There was no apparent deflection of the ray due to the ionized gas particles. Seemed to
suggest ray had no polarity.

When the experiment was repeated in a vacuum it was found that the ray deflected
towards the positive plate.
Property Interactivity with Magnetic Fields

Magnetic poles were placed on opposite ends of the CRT showing the ray. The ray was
seen to deflect towards the north pole. In other versions, the shadow of the maltese
cross was seen to deflect.

Property Mass of Cathode Rays

Key: Determined that cathode rays were particles (other properties were exhibited by
both waves and particles). Paddle was placed between anode and cathode. When the ray
was shown, the paddle spun towards the anode, showing the particles had mass.

Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation

Moving Charges in a Magnetic Field

Identify that moving charged particles in a magnetic field experiences a force
Describe quantitatively the force acting on a charge moving through a magnetic field

A charge moving through a magnetic field will experience a force. The direction of which
is determined by the right hand pam rule.

= ()
= ( )
= ( 1 )
= ()
Key: The force is centripetal in nature, i.e. =

1. An electron of charge 1.6 1019C is projected into a region
where a magnetic field exists as shown in the diagram. If the velocity
of the electron is 2.5 104 1, determine
a. The force on the electron
b. The shape of the path which the electron follows

Charges in an Electric Field

Identify that charged plates produce an electric field
Describe qualitatively the electric field strength due to a point charge, positive and negative charges and
oppositely charged parallel plates
Describe quantitatively the electric field due to the oppositely charged plates
Electric Fields

If two parallel plates are charged with a voltage, an electric field will be produced
between the two plates. The direction of this field will extend from the positive plate to
the negative plate. Formally the direction is dictated by the direction a positive charge
would move if placed in the field. The field is strength is uniform throughout the spacing
between the plates.
Strength is designated by spacing of lines.

Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation


= (1 )
= ()
= ()
= ()
= ()
= (1 )

1. What is the electric field strength between two parallel plates separated by 5.0m, if a potential difference of
48volts is applied across them?

2. How much work is done moving a charge of 3.6 through a potential difference of 15volts?

3. Two parallel plates are separated by a distance of 5mm. A potential difference of 200volts is connected
across them. A small object with a mass of 1.8 1012 is given a positive charge of 12. It is released
from rest near the positive plate to the negative plate. Calculate the velocity it gains as it moves from the
positive plate to the negative plate.
Hint: Work = change in kinetic energy

4. An oil drop of mass 6.8 106g is suspended between two parallel plates which are separated by a distance
of 3.5mm. A potential difference of 33.V is applied to the two plates.

Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation

a. What is the electric field strength between the two plates

b. What is the charge that must exist on the oil drop?

c. How many excess electrons must be present on the oil drop?

JJ Thomson and Determining The Charge to Mass Ratio
Outine Thomsons experiment to measure the charge/mass ratio of an electron
We have since proven that cathode rays are particle in nature. However the solidifying piece of evidence was the
charge to mass ratio of the cathode ray.
#1 - Deflection by Electric Fields
JJ Thomson found that the cathode rays were deflected by electric fields if the cathode ray was fired within a
vacuum tube. The lack of gas meant the cathode ray did not ionize any gas, which in turn meant no ions could
cancel out the charge of the electric plates.
#2 Deflection by both Electric and Magnetic Fields
Creating a narrow beam of cathode rays using a slit, it was found that both magnetic and electric fields deflected
the ray. Indicating the cathode ray was not a form of EM radiation.

When the cathode ray was placed through both fields simultaneously, the strength of
each field was changed until the cathode ray travelled straight, indicating the force from
each was equal. Equating the forces we are able to calculate velocity.

Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation

Conclusion: Cathode rays travel more slowly than light, indicating that it was not EM
#3 Deflection by Lone Magnetic Field

The cathode ray was place through a lone magnetic field. The force of the centripetal
force forced the ray into a circle. By measuring the radius of radius of this circle, and
equating centripetal force to force due to a magnetic field, the charge to mass ratio was


Conclusion: The charge to mass ratio was 1.76 1011 /. This was 1800 times greater
than the hydrogen ion, indicating that the cathode ray particles must be smaller than
hydrogen or have a much larger charge than hydrogen ions. Combining this with crookes
conclusion that identical rays are produced by different materials, he concluded that
these tiny charged particles must exist in all atoms.
Application of Cathode Ray Tubes + Role of Parts
Outline the role of: electrons in the electron gun, the deflection plates or coils, the fluorescent screen in the
cathode ray tube of conventional TV displays and oscilloscopes.
Cathodes ray tubes are applied everywhere in everyday life. All Neon signs, CROs and older TVs operated by
using cathode ray tubes.
Cathode Ray Oscilloscope

**Electron gun:

Electrons come from a heated cathode

Cathode is heated up filament linked to power source

Year 12 Physics From Ideas to Implementation

Heat allows electrons to escape

Attraction by anode accelerates electrons

o Two anodes will further increase acceleration


When the electron hits the screen, a bright spot forms

If deflection occurs too rapidly, a line appears
o The retina allows vision to persist for several mili seconds
Is coated with graphite paint
Conducts incoming charges, completing the circuit and preventing build of negative


Wire Mesh which is subjected to varying voltage

o When negative repels electrons
o When positive, attracts electrons and increases current flow
Acts as a brightness control

**Deflection Plates:

Horizontal and vertical deflection plates

Voltage can be varied to focus the beam in different directions
o Combination of both plates will direct the beam to any point on the screen

Time Base:

The horizontal deflecting voltage is linked to a time base

o Sweeps the beam across the screen at a constant speed
By varying voltage, the frequency can be varied
o High Frequency = Straight line
o Low Frequency = Dots


AC voltage will produce a Sin curve

DC will move the time base line up or down the screen
o Is usually applied to vertical deflection plates

A television is very similar in construction to the Cathode ray oscilloscope. They key differences are:

Multiple electron guns exist to produce a different colour

Deflection is achieved by magnetic fields created by current carrying coils rather than
electric fields produced by plates
The beam sweeps the screen periodically at an extremely high frequency
o Each sweep maps a line
o High frequency combined with the eyes system of retaining images
produces an entire image across the screen
o Difference in brightness is attributed to the grid