Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
868
[GASES
CONDUCTION, ELECTRIC


isobutyl amide through air .042. We thus see that the velocity of diffusion of ions through air is much less than that of the simple gas, but that it is quite comparable with that of the vapours of some complex organic compounds.

The preceding tables show that the negative ions diffuse more rapidly than the positive, especially in dry gases. The superior mobility of the negative ions was observed first by Zeleny (Phil. Mag., 1898 [5], 46, p. 120), who showed that the velocity of the negative ions under an electric force is greater than that of the positive. It will be noticed that the difference between the mobility of the negative and the positive ions is much more pronounced in dry gases than in moist. The difference in the rates of diffusion of the positive and negative ions is the reason why ionized gas, in which, to begin with, the positive and negative charges were of equal amounts, sometimes becomes electrified even although the gas is not acted upon by electric forces. Thus, for example, if such gas be blown through narrow tubes, it will be positively electrified when it comes out, for since the negative ions diffuse more rapidly than the positive, the gas in its passage through the tubes will lose by diffusion more negative than positive ions and hence will emerge positively electrified. Zeleny snowed that this effect does not occur when, as in carbonic acid gas, the positive and negative ions diffuse at the same rates. Townsend (loc. cit.) showed that the coefficient of diffusion of the ions is the same whether the ionization is produced by Röntgen rays, radioactive substances, ultra-violet light, or electric sparks. The ions produced by chemical reactions and in flames are much less mobile; thus, for example, Bloch (Ann. chim. phys., 1905 [8], 4, p. 25) found that for the ions produced by drawing air over phosphorus the value of α/e was between 1 and 6 instead of over 3000, the value when the air was ionized by Röntgen rays.

Velocity of Ions in an Electric Field.—The velocity of ions in an electric field, which is of fundamental importance in conduction, is very closely related to the coefficient of diffusion. Measurements of this velocity for ions produced by Röntgen rays have been made by Rutherford (Phil. Mag. [5], 44, p. 422), Zeleny (Phil. Mag. [5], 46, p. 120), Langevin (Ann. Chim. Phys., 1903, 28, p. 289), Phillips (Proc. Roy. Soc. 78, A, p. 167), and Wellisch (Phil. Trans., 1909, 209, p. 249). The ions produced by radioactive substance have been investigated by Rutherford (Phil. Mag. [5], 47, p. 109) and by Franck and Pohl (Verh. deutsch. phys. Gesell., 1907, 9, p. 69), and the negative ions produced when ultra-violet light falls on a metal plate by Rutherford (Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc. 9, p. 401). H. A. Wilson (Phil. Trans. 192, p. 4O9), Marx (Ann. de Phys. 11, p. 765), Moreau (Journ. de Phys. 4, 11, p. 558; Ann. Chim. Phys. 7, 30, p. 5) and Gold (Proc. Roy. Soc. 79, p. 43) have investigated the velocities of ions produced by putting various salts into flames; McClelland (Phil. Mag. 46, p. 29) the velocity of the ions in gases sucked from the neighbourhood of flames and arcs; Townsend (Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc. 9, p. 345) and Bloch (loc. cit.) the velocity of ions produced by chemical reaction; and Chattock (Phil. Mag. [5], 48, p. 401) the velocity of the ions produced when electricity escapes from a sharp needle point into a gas.

Several methods have been employed to determine these velocities. The one most frequently employed is to find the electromotive intensity required to force an ion against the stream of gas moving with a known velocity parallel to the lines of electric force. Thus, of two perforated plane electrodes vertically over each other, suppose the lower to be positively, the upper negatively electrified, and suppose that the gas is streaming vertically downwards with the velocity V; then unless the upward velocity of the positive ion is greater than V, no positive electricity will reach the upper plate. If we increase the strength of the field between the plates, and hence the upward velocity of the positive ion, until the positive ions just begin to reach the upper plate, we know that with this strength of field the velocity of the positive ion is equal to V. By this method, which has been used by Rutherford, Zeleny and H. A. Wilson, the velocity of ions in fields of various strengths has been determined.

The arrangement used by Zeleny is represented in fig. 8. P and Q are square brass plates. They are bored through their centres, and to the openings the tubes R and S are attached, the space between the plates being covered in so as to form a closed box. K is a piece of wire gauze completely covering the opening in Q; T is an insulated piece of wire gauze nearly but not quite filling the opening in the plate P, and connected with one pair of quadrants of an electrometer E. A plug of glass wool G filters out the dust from a stream of gas which enters the vessel by the tube D and leaves it by F; this plug also makes the velocity of the flow of the gas uniform across the section of the tube. The Röntgen rays to ionize the gas were produced by a bulb at O, the bulb and coil being in a lead-covered box, with an aluminium window through which the rays passed. Q is connected with one pole of a battery of cells, P and the other pole of the battery are put to earth. The changes in the potential of T are due to ions giving up their charges to it. With a given velocity of air-blast the potential of T was found not to change unless the difference of potential between P and Q exceeded a critical value. The field corresponding to this critical value thus made the ions move with the known velocity of the blast.

EB1911 Conduction, Electric - Fig. 8.jpg
Fig. 8.
EB1911 Conduction, Electric - Fig. 9.jpg
Fig. 9.

Another method which has been employed by Rutherford and McClelland is based on the action of an electric field in destroying the conductivity of gas streaming through it. Suppose that BAB, DCD (fig. 9) are a system of parallel plates boxed in so that a stream of gas, after flowing between BB, passes between DD without any loss of gas in the interval. Suppose the plates DD are insulated, and connected with one pair of quadrants of an electrometer, by charging up C to a sufficiently high potential we can drive all the positive ions which enter the system DCD against the plates D; this will cause a deflexion of the electrometer, which in one second will be proportional to the number of positive ions which have entered the system in that time. If we charge A up to a high potential, B being put to earth, we shall find that the deflexion of the electrometer connected with DD is less than it was when A and B were at the same potential, because some of the positive ions in their passage through BAB are driven against the plates B. If u is the velocity along the lines of force in the uniform electric field between A and B, and t the time it takes for the gas to pass through BAB, then all the positive ions within a distance ut of the plates B will be driven up against these plates, and thus if the positive ions are equally distributed through the gas, the number of positive ions which emerge from the system when the electric field is on will bear to the number which emerge when the field is off the ratio of 1 − ut/l to unity, where l is the distance between A and B. This ratio is equal to the ratio of the deflexions in one second of the electrometer attached to D, hence the observations of this instrument give 1 − ut/l. If we know the velocity of the gas and the length of the plates A and B, we can determine t, and since l can be easily measured, we can find u, the velocity of the positive ion in a field of given strength. By charging A and C negatively instead of positively we can arrive at the velocity of the negative ion. In practice it is more convenient to use cylindrical tubes with coaxial wires instead of the systems of parallel plates, though in this case the calculation of the velocity of the ions from the observations is a little more complicated, inasmuch as the electric field is not uniform between the tubes.

EB1911 Conduction, Electric - Fig. 10.jpg
Fig. 10.

A method which gives very accurate results, though it is only applicable in certain cases, is the one used by Rutherford to measure the velocity of the negative ions produced close to a metal plate by the incidence on the plate of ultra-violet light. The principle of the method is as follows:—AB (fig. 10) is an insulated horizontal plate of well-polished zinc, which can be moved vertically up and down by means of a screw; it is connected with one pair of quadrants of an electrometer, the other pair of quadrants being put to earth. CD is a base-plate with a hole EF in it; this hole is covered with fine wire gauze, through which ultra-violet light passes and falls on the plate AB. The plate CD is connected with an alternating current dynamo, which produces a simply-periodic potential difference between AB and CD, the other pole being put to earth. Suppose that at any instant the plate CD is at a higher potential than AB, then the negative ions from AB will move towards CD, and will continue to do so as long as the potential of CD is higher than that of AB. If, however, the potential difference changes sign before the negative

ions reach CD, these ions will go back to AB. Thus AB will not