Detection of particles with a cloud chamber
Esteban Muñoz, Iván
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Cloud chambers were essential devices in early nuclear and particle physics research. Superseded by more modern detectors in actual research, they still remain very interesting pedagogical apparatus. This thesis attempts to give a global view on this topic. To do so, a review of the physical foundations of the diffusion cloud chamber, in which an alcohol is supersaturated by cooling it with a thermal reservoir, is carried out. Its main results are then applied to analyse the working conditions inside the chamber. The analysis remarks the importance of using an appropriate alcohol, such as isopropanol, as well as a strong cooling system, which for isopropanol needs to reach −40ºC. That theoretical study is complemented with experimental tests that were performed with what is the usual design of a home-made cloud chamber. An effective setup is established, which highlights details such as a grazing illumination, a direct contact with the cooling reservoir through a wide metal plate, or the importance of avoiding vapour removal. Apart from that, video results of different phenomena that cloud chamber allow to observe are also presented. Overall, it is aimed to present a physical insight that pedagogical papers usually lack.