Transition radiation detectors
Willis, William J. Physics Division, European Organization for Nuclear Research, Geneva, Switzerland.
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Detectors of energetic charged particles that make use of radiation emitted as the particle crosses boundaries between regions with different indices of refraction. An energetic charged particle moving through matter momentarily polarizes the material nearby. If the particle crosses a boundary where the index of refraction changes, the change in polarization gives rise to the emission of electromagnetic transition radiation. About one photon is emitted for every 100 boundaries crossed, for transitions between air and matter of ordinary density. Transition radiation is emitted even if the velocity of the particle is less than the light velocity of a given wavelength, in contrast to Cerenkov radiation. Consequently, this radiation can take place in the x-ray region of the spectrum where there is no Cerenkov radiation, because the index of refraction is less than one. See also: Cerenkov radiation; Refraction of waves
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