The Wehnelt Current Interrupter

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Abstract

THE form of contact breaker recently introduced by Wehnelt is attracting so much notice, that it may be worth while to draw attention to an essentially identical arrangement described by Spottiswoode for use with an induction coil, more than twenty years ago (Proc. Roy. Soc., vol. xxv. p. 549). He says: “Another form of contact breaker was also occasionally used. The principle upon which it was based was the sudden disruption of a thin film of conducting liquid by a discharge between the electrodes of a circuit. The mode of effecting this was to make one electrode terminate in a platinum plate fixed in a horizontal position, and supplied with a uniform film of dilute sulphuric acid; the other in a platinum point, the distance of which from the plate is capable of delicate adjustment by means of a screw. Electro-motive force required for this break is not less than that of five cells of Grove. As soon as the current passes, the fluid between the plate and point will be decomposed, and electrical continuity broken. This done, the fluid flows back again, and continuity is restored. By a proper adjustment of the supply of fluid and of the distance between the electrodes (the latter varying from ˙05 to ˙001 of an inch), the number of disruptions may be made to attain 1000 per second. The currents delivered by this form of break are exceedingly uniform, and the effects produced are quite equal in delicacy to those produced by the electro-magnetic or by the wheel break.”

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STRUTT, R. The Wehnelt Current Interrupter. Nature 59, 510 (1899) doi:10.1038/059510a0

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