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1. The rotating anode 2 The cathode 3. Glass envelope 4. Tube Housing.

A brief overview on an x-ray tube types

. It is a component of the x-ray machine which basically consists of cathode and the anode enclosed within a glass envelope.

(i) Single filament/focus tube contains one filament (ii) Dual filament/focus tube- Has two filaments (iii) Grid controlled Has Voltage controlled connections on the projectile electrons which turns on and off quickly to produce very short exposure times used in digital procedures. e.g. fluoroscopy.

. It is described as an energy converter, receiving electrical energy at the cathode and converting it into x radiation (1%) and heat(99%) at the anode end. . The process involves generation of electrons by thermionic emission from the filament of the cathode which are then accelerated to a high speed and driven across to the anode by an applied Voltage power across the two ends. . The fast moving electrons are then suddenly brought to stop at the anode, thus losing their kinetic energy in the form of x-radiation and heat energy. . Heat is an undesirable by product and thus Morden x-ray tubes are designed to maximize x-ray production and dissipate heat rapidly.



. This is the negative electrode of the X-ray tube consisting of a small coil of wire (filament) recessed in a focusing cup . Types Single filament Cathode _ Dual filament cathode. . Basic Functions (i) Controlled production of electrons at the filament through conversion of electrical energy into thermal energy. (ii) Directing the projectile electrons into a desired focusing beam size by means of a focusing cup.

:It is a coil of wire usually made of thoriated tungsten designed to achieve high melting point of tungsten (3410oC) ,less vaporisation and efficient thermionic emission. :They vary in size ranging from 1.5-2mm in diameter and 1-2cm long which also determines the size of the focusing cup. :Electrons are generated from the filament when large filament current ranging from 3-5A is supplied to the filament which convert it into thermal energy. Heat is speedily built up to a glowing temperature at which external orbital electrons are ejected from the tungsten filament to form the tube current when driven across to the anode.

:The desired current is selected from a selector over the filament transformer. :Application of a high amount of current over the filament can cause thermal damage and vaporisation of the filament leading to tube failure.

A diagram.


:It is the device which contains the filament designed to condense the projectile electrons into a desired beam size and thus a desired focal point on the anode. :Its shape and size is guided by the size of the filament positioned inside it.

Types _ Single cup

_Dual cup . Electrons are negatively charged, hence, tends to repel each other as they travel towards the anode. The focusing cup which is also negatively change provides a greater force of repulsion on the electrons, preventing them from fanning out, thus bringing them into a focal stream.


It is the positive electrode of the x-ray tube consisting of a rotating anode disc as the target ancord into the induction motor component. . The rotating anode is made up of bevel shaped anode disc as the target or a base containing the surface target. It is joined to the rotor by a connecting shaft and a stator of rods outside the neck of the tube as shown in the above diagram. . The rotor is made of copper and soft iron fabricated into one and supported on a bearing system. . The stator consist of series of electromagnets equally spaced around the neck of the tube. Current flowing in the stator is designed to sequentially energise the electro magnets thereby inducing magnetic fields.

.The induced magnetic fields then acts on the rotor causing it to rotate in synchrony with the activated stators. .The connecting shaft is made of molybdenum, a strong metal with low thermal conductively so as to prevent excessive heat from damaging the supporting bearing which could lead to tube failure. . The rotor and the connecting shaft are sealed in the evacuceted glass envelope . Anode targets are usually made of tungsten for the following reasons. _ Higher atomic number (z)__ efficient x-ray production _ Good thermal conductivity _ High melting point (3410oc) _ Low rate of evaporation 1.

Other metals used as target include _ molybdenum __used in mammography machines. _ Tungsten- rhenium alloy _ Rhodium ____ also used in mammography machines

Copper in addition to those mentioned above is also used as anode base material due to its excellent thermal conductivity. . Anode discs are made to rotate at 3600 r/min but high speed tubes run at 10,000 rpm with a greater heat dissipation .accelerated projectile electrons from the cathode are then suddenly brought to stop at the target surface of the anode losing their kinetic energy and producing x radiation and heat in the process.

The functions of the anode are thus summarised into _ Conversion of electronic energy (in kev) into x radiation and heat. _ Immediate dissipation of the heat so created in the process aided by the rotating nature of the anode. - It receives electrons emitted by the cathode and conducts them away into the circuit cable. _ Provides mechanical support for the target _ determining the effective focal sport size by the use of the line focus principle.

(3). THE GLASS ENVELOPE . It is an air-tight glass devices which is designed to tightly surround the two electrodes of an x ray tube. . The cathode and anode assembly sealed in an air tight glass envelope is known as the insert of the X-ray tube. . Glass has a low relative heat expansivity, thus special alloys which expands at the same amount as glass when heated is used to seal the gaps between the metal and glass component. .majority of glass tubes are mode of Pyrex glass which enables it withstand tremendous heat that is generated in the procedure.

The glass tube size and shape is designed such that the two electrodes are positioned for enough apart to avoid electrical discharged between the two. Size ranges from 20-35cm long and 15cm in diameter. . The vacuum space provides an ideal place for effective conduction of the tube current and thus efficient x-ray production. . The glass envelope also provide a mechanical support for the assembly. . It also provides for an exist window for the useful x-ray beam. It is a thin section of the glass approximately 5cm square in dimension.


.It is the metal enclosure over the x-ray tube which contains a special type of oil surrounding the tube. It also has electrical connecting wires, a fan, and x- ray beam filters. The inside of the metal enclosure is lined with lead except over the windows port. . The housing provides mechanical support for the x ray tube as well as protect it from damage. . The housing and its lead lining prevents leakage radiation to a maximum allowed standard of 100mR/hr at a distance of 1m from the focal spot with the machine operating at maximum capacity . Only useful x ray beam is allowed to pass through the house window.

insulator and a thermal cushion absorbing heat from the tube by radiation. . The housing also incorporate specially designed high voltage receptacles to protect against accidental electrical shock. . In-built fan help in accelerating heat dissipation from the housing to the surrounding by convection. . The housing also provides fittings for filters and collimators around the exit window.

The oil surrounding the x-ray tube serves as both electrical

The filament heating current describes the large current supplied to the filament in order to produce the needed thermal energy to generate electrons by a process called thermionic emission. . Typically the filament current ranges from 2-5 ampere which is hundred of times larger than the tube current. . Large current is applied to the filament to raise the thermal energy so generated to a glowing temperature so as to boil off orbital electrons from the filament. . At this threshold thermal energy , a slight increase in the filament current will lead to a large number of electrons to be ejected out of their orbit forming the tube current as they are driven to the anode by a high voltage power.

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Filament current are controlled and selected from discrete taps on the filament transformer. The tube current which describes the projectile electrons is also called the MA which is the unit of its measurement.1MA =6.24x10 Tube currents which ranges from 50-1000MA are produced with varied intensities selected from fixed stations which are the same discrete taps of the filament transformer used for the control and selection of filament current. The x-ray tube current is thus adjusted by controlling the filament current. A change in the filament heating current therefore causes a change in the thermionic emission of electrons from the filament and thus a change in the tube current.

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It is important to note that 99% of energy of the projectile electrons slamming at the anode is converted to heat and only 1% gives off the x radiation. The amount of heat so produced is capable of damaging the anode and thus causing a tube failure. Rotating anode are disc- shaped structures of 6-15cm diameter providing a wider target area as it rotates . Projectile electrons thus slam on a wider area and with the good thermal conductivity of the anode material, which helps in speedy dissipation of the heat so generated. It therefore increases the heat capacity of the tube thus prolonging tube life .

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Stationary anode on the other hand has a smaller target embedded in a wider stationary anode base. This makes it prone to heat damage as more heat is generated by streams of projectile electrons repeatedly slamming on the same spot. tube failure is thus commoner with stationary anode. Because of the high thermal capacity of rotating anode tube, it affords the use of high voltage and current to generated more energetic x rays for desired diagnostic use. Overall better image quantity is thus achieved with a rotating anode machine. Longer exposure times is better tolerated with a rotating anode machine than a stationary anode type. Longer operation time can equally be tolerated with a rotating anode x ray machine. Longer tube life is achieved. Use of a rotating anode machines in the long-run is thus more cost effective.