• A heated cathode produces electrons
  • These electrons are accelerated by a high voltage towards a metal target
  • Upon collision, these electrons are decelerated and hence emit EMR in the form of x-rays

AKA braking radiation or bremsstrahlung

Bremsstrahlung is the continuous spectrum of x-rays emitted, due to electrons travelling at different velocities or not transferring all of their energy into the photons.

  • If electrons have sufficient energy, they may be able to knock out electrons from an inner shell.
  • Then, outer shell electrons will drop down into the vacancy, emitting an x-ray with an unusually high intensity.
  • These are called characteristic x-rays, symbol = K
  • Kα peaks are caused by a transition between E2 to E1
  • Kβ are caused by a transition between E3 to E1
  • Hence, photons produced by Kβ have more energy, as it has more energy levels to drop down.

Here is a short animation explaining the process.

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