Photoelectric and Selenium Cells

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astronomy

Scientific paper

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Scientific paper

THE prevailing impression, expressed by Dr. Slater Price in NATURE of March 8, p. 351, that photoelectric cells are less trustworthy than selenium, is, we believe, due to the practice of using gas-filled cells with the active surface sensitised by the discharge in hydrogen. Cells prepared with untreated surfaces of the alkali metals in a high vacuum are perfectly trustworthy instruments; they show neither timelag nor fatigue, and can readily be prepared differing in absolute sensitivity by a factor of not more than two. They are, of course, less sensitive than the Elster-Geitel gas-filled cells, but their sensitivity is ample for all ordinary photometric purposes with very simple electrical measuring apparatus. If greater sensitivity is required, we believe that it may be attained far more conveniently by amplification outside the cell than by amplification within it-unless possibly when the cells are required for astronomical purposes and the whole apparatus has to be mounted on the telescope.

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