Skip to main content

spark chamber

spark chamber, in physics, device for recording the passage of elementary particles produced by reactions in a particle accelerator. Particles pass through a stack of metal plates or wire grids that are maintained with high voltage between alternate layers. A high-pressure gas fills the gaps between the plates and is ionized along the path of the traversing charged particle. As a result, sparks jump between adjacent, oppositely charged plates and the trail of sparks left by the particle is seen as a series of dashes. The spark chamber has replaced the bubble chamber in certain applications. Although the particle paths are recorded more accurately in the bubble chamber, the bubble chamber indiscriminately records all events that occur in a comparatively long interval. The spark chamber operates much more rapidly and can be made highly selective by using auxiliary detectors to screen out unwanted events. Because of its selectivity, the spark chamber is most useful in searching for very rare events. Spark chambers can be highly automated, with data collected and stored electronically instead of photographically, as is necessary with the bubble chamber. The analysis of the data can then be accomplished by a high-speed computer, which may operate simultaneously with the experiment and thereby provide immediate evaluation of the quality of the data and allow optimum operating conditions to be maintained at all times.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"spark chamber." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 18 Aug. 2019 <>.

"spark chamber." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (August 18, 2019).

"spark chamber." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.