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Stepwise Ablation and Heat Transfer in Cold-Cathode Arcs


A ‘COLD-CATHODE’ arc is an electric discharge in a gas or in vacuo with a cathode fall of about 10 V.1 and a current density at the cathode of 105–106 amp./ sq. cm. 1,2 ; the intense light observed comes from the cathode vapour but not from the ambient gas, if present. The cathode temperature is much too low to give the high current density of electrons if emitted thermionically from the spot, but was thought to be high enough to produce copious evaporation ; pyrometric and spectroscopic temperature measurements showed 2,000–2,500° K. for many metals3–6.

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