X-rays (or much more rarely, and usually historically, x-radiation or Roentgen rays) represent a form of ionizing electromagnetic radiation. They are produced by an x-ray tube, using a high voltage to accelerate the electrons produced by its cathode. The produced electrons interact with the anode, thus producing x-rays. The x-rays produced include Bremsstrahlung and the characteristic radiation for the anode element.
X-rays can interact with matter by the following:
- photoelectric effect
- Compton effect
- Rayleigh or classical scattering
- pair production (not possible in the diagnostic radiology range)
History and etymology
X-rays were discovered by the German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923) in 1895. They were named x-rays or x-radiation as Rontgen did not know what they were, and he was using the symbol 'x' for an unknown quantity or thing . He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking discovery.