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The spark counter

This consists of a fine metal Radioactive source or flame
gauze mounted about a millimetre
away from a thin wire (Figure 1). A
voltage is applied between the two
so that sparking takes place + 5000 V
between them - this usually
requires some 4000 - 5000 V. The
voltage is then reduced until
sparking just stops.

If an alpha-source is brought up
close to the gauze it will ionise the
air, and sparks will occur between
the gauze and wire. With beta and
gamma sources insufficient ions gauze
are usually produced for sparking
to take place. The spark counter
can be used to measure the range
of alpha-particles, and in nuclear thin wire
sparking here
research a stack of spark counters
is used to show the track of a
Figure 1
particle as a line of sparks.