Royal Society Publishing

Experimental and Theoretical Studies of the Behaviour of Slow Electrons in Air. I

L. H. G. Huxley, A. A. Zaazou


This paper is an account of an experimental investigation of the motions of free electrons in air by the method developed by Townsend. An improved form of apparatus is described with the appropriate theory. The following parameters of the electronic motion were determined as functions of the ratio Z/p of the electric field strength Z to the gas pressure p: Townsend's energy factor k$_{T}$, the drift velocity W, the mean free path at unit pressure L and the mean proportion $\eta $ of its energy lost in collisions with gas molecules. The experimental data are given in the form of tables and curves. The drift velocity W is found by a new procedure based on the Hall effect and by comparing the velocities W so obtained with the direct measurements of W by Nielsen & Bradbury it is seen that the velocities of agitation are distributed approximately according to Druyvesteyn's law when Z/p exceeds 0$\cdot $5. Bailey's factor G, which is of importance in ionospheric studies, is obtained from the experimental dependence of $\eta $ on k$_{T}$. Theoretical formulae are derived for k$_{T}$ and W in terms of L, G and Z/p. The theory of the new method for measuring W is given in an appendix.