The discovery of X-rays

1 Jun 2021 | X-ray History

Left: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen x-ray machine
Right: First x-ray picture
© Deutsches Röntgen-Museum

The year was 1895 when Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen first discovered

He found that, if he worked in a dark room with a discharge tube that was enclosed in a sealed, thick black carton to exclude all light, a paper plate covered on one side with barium platinocyanide placed in the path of the rays became florescent.

During subsequent experiments, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen found that objects of different thicknesses interposed in the path of the rays showed variable transparency when recorded on a photographic plate. We can see this in the iconic picture he captured on December 22, 1895 of his wife’s hand. Known to be the first x-ray image, the hand of Anna Bertha Ludwig demonstrates the shadows created by the bones of her hand, a ring she was wearing, and the penumbra of the flesh, which was more permeable to the X-rays than the bones and the ring and therefore created a fainter shadow. 

Röntgen later showed that X-rays are produced by the impact of cathode rays on a material object. Later, Max von Laue and his pupils showed that cathode rays are of the same electromagnetic nature as visible light but differ from it only in higher frequency. The discovery of X-Rays lead to the development of today’s X-ray technology and Scandiflash Flash X-ray imaging instrumentation.

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For over 50 years, Scandiflash has been pioneering flash X-ray technology to help scientists and researchers around the globe to see the nearly impossible. Scandiflash Flash X-Ray Systems generate extremely short pulses used to capture dynamics in the harshest of conditions, ranging from indoor lab setups to outdoor large-scale firing ranges. The systems are modular and can be tailored to meet your requirements for number of pulses and peak energy conditions.