bubble chamber

views updated May 21 2018

bubble chamber Device for detecting and identifying subatomic particles. It consists of a sealed chamber filled with a liquefied gas, usually liquid hydrogen, kept just below its boiling point by high pressure in the chamber. When the pressure is released, the boiling point is lowered and a charged particle passing through the superheated liquid leaves a trail of tiny gas bubbles that can be illuminated and photographed before the pressure is restored. If a magnetic field is applied to the chamber, the tracks are curved according to the charge, mass and velocity of the particles, which can thus be identified. The US physicist Donald Glaser received the 1960 Nobel Prize in physics for inventing the bubble chamber, and it was developed by Luis Alvarez.