Seeing radioactive particles with your own eyes is an exciting way to learn about nuclear radiation. A cloud chamber allows you to visually detect ionizing radiation from radioactive sources. With some common household items, I can build a simple DIY cloud chamber to observe alpha, beta, and gamma radiation interacting with the sensitive vapor inside the chamber.

What is a Cloud Chamber

A cloud chamber, also known as a Wilson cloud chamber, is a particle detector that uses cooled air saturated with alcohol vapor to make radiation trails visible. It was invented by Scottish physicist Charles Wilson in 1911.

Here's how a cloud chamber works:

Shopping List of Materials Needed

To build a DIY cloud chamber at home, I will need the following materials:

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these steps to assemble the cloud chamber:

Prepare the Glass Container

Add Insulation

Insert Source Plate and Light Source

Add Alcohol-Soaked Felt

Add Dry Ice

Allow Time to Equilibrate

How to Operate the Finished Cloud Chamber

To operate the cloud chamber:

Enjoy Exploring Nuclear Radiation!

Building a simple cloud chamber enables you to see radioactive particles firsthand. This do-it-yourself project reveals the invisible world and random nature of nuclear radiation. It provides an up-close look at atomic physics in action using common household materials. So grab your glass jar and dry ice, make a chamber, darken the room and enjoy the show!