spark chamber

spark chamber

Spark chamber at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Credit: BNL.

A spark chamber is a gas-filled chamber in which ionizing radiation or charged particles can be detected by the tracks of sparks made visible after the particles cause ionization.


Up to 100 parallel metal plates are stacked in the chamber. connected alternately to the positive and negative terminals of a very high-voltage supply (with a voltage of some thousand volts between each plate). The spaces between the plates are filled with gas, usually neon or helium. The ionizing radiation leads to spark formation between the plates along the path of radiation through the chamber. The spark trace can be registered photographically or electronically.