Lesson Plan: X-ray Tubes Physics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to describe the production of X-rays using an X-ray tube and how the spectrum of X-rays produced can vary.


Students will be able to

  • describe the role of the following components/properties/processes associated with X-ray production using a Coolidge tube: hot cathode, target, tube voltage, thermionic emission, and beam current,
  • describe the electron energy level transitions in atoms of the target material of a Coolidge tube responsible for the production of characteristic energy X-rays,
  • explain how the features present in the X-ray spectrum produced by a Coolidge tube correspond to electron beam characteristics and to target material characteristics.


Students should already be familiar with

  • the fact that the kinetic energy of a charged particle due to acceleration through a uniform electric field is 𝑉𝑞,
  • the equation 𝐸𝐸=𝑓.


Students will not cover

  • X-ray absorption,
  • X-ray focusing,
  • X-ray imaging.

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