Subatomic-particle detector that uses a superheated liquid which boils into tiny bubbles of vapour along the tracks of the particles. As charged particles move through the liquid, they knock electrons from the atoms of the liquid, creating ions. If the liquid is close to its boiling point, the first bubbles form around these ions. The observable tracks can be photographed and analyzed to measure the behaviour of the charged particles. Developed in 1952 by Donald Glaser, the bubble chamber proved very useful in the 1960s and '70s for the study of high-energy nuclear and particle physics.
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A bubble chamber is a vessel filled with a superheated transparent liquid (most often liquid hydrogen) used to detect electrically charged particles moving through it. It was invented in 1952 by Donald A. Glaser, for which he was awarded the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Bubbles grow in size as the chamber expands, until they are large enough to be seen or photographed. Several cameras are mounted around it, allowing a three-dimensional image of an event to be captured. Bubble chambers with resolutions down to a few μm have been operated.
The whole chamber is subject to a constant magnetic field, which causes charged particles to travel in helical paths whose radius is determined by their charge-to-mass ratios. Given that for all known charged long-lived subatomic particles, the magnitude of their charge is that of an electron, their radius of curvature is thus proportional to their momentum.
Recently, bubble chambers have been used in research on WIMPs.