The design and construction of an experimental MgO cold cathode X-ray tube for use in XRF spectrometry.
An introduction to the fundamental concepts of X-ray physics and X-ray tube design is given. This discussion also includes a brief description of various X-ray tube types available commercially for a number of different industrial applications. The design of a high-energy MgO cold cathode X-ray tube, which is to be used in an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, is described in detail with emphasis placed on the electron beam focusing mechanism and the theory of operation as well as the construction of the X-ray tube MgO cold cathode, which functioned as the electron emitter of the device. A detailed account is also given of the output characteristics of the X-ray tube power supply, which has a direct effect on the design requirements and consequently the performance of the X-ray tube. An investigation into the manufacture of the vacuum envelope with particular attention focused on the production of reliable metal-to-ceramic seals was performed. A number of tests were conducted especially with regard to the maximum temperature that such seals may withstand without becoming permanently damaged. These tests were essential, since high temperature gradients tend to develop in an X-ray tube during operation, which the metal-to-cerarnic seals of the tube must be capable of withstanding if damage to the device is to be avoided. The set-up of the XRF spectrometer in which the completed X-ray tube was tested is discussed, in which the X-ray current and voltage measuring techniques are described. Furthermore a detailed account of the operation of the X-ray detector system and the multichannel analyser is given, which was used to detect and record spectra of the sample elements excited by the primary radiation of the X-ray tube. Finally the measured X-ray tube performance characteristics are discussed and compared to the predicted results.