A photon is, in simple terms, an elementary force-carrying particle i.e. a boson 2 (obeys the statistical law of Bose-Einstein). It has a zero mass (rest mass) and travels at, c, the speed of light in vacuo. It is defined as stable with no electric charge and exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties (so-called wave-particle duality). The magnitude of photon energy is directly proportional to frequency (E = hν) and inversely proportional to wavelength (E = hc/λ). For the sake of this article, a photon refers to an uncharged particle used to describe the particle portion of an electromagnetic wave. 

X-ray photon

Photons are called x-rays if they are produced by electron interactions. An x-ray photon has a wavelength of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, with a frequency of 3×1016 Hz to 3×1019 Hz. It possesses enough energy (100 eV to 100 keV) to disrupt molecular bonds and ionize atoms making it, by definition, ionizing radiation.

These x-ray photons will interact with matter through Compton scatteringphotoelectric absorption, and Rayleigh scattering.

The wavelength of a photon is identical to the wavelength of the electromagnetic wave it is described to be a part of.

Production of x-ray photons

X-ray photons are most often generated in a vacuum-sealed x-ray tube, using a high voltage potential to accelerate electrons from a cathode to a spinning anode, often comprised of tungsten.

The energy of the x-ray photon is defined by the voltage in the tube multiplied by the electron charge for example 100 kV will only create x-ray photons with a maximum energy 100 KeV.

Physics and imaging technology: x-ray

Article information

rID: 52703
Tag: physics
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Photons

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