Abstract

For the observation of weak absorption lines a background is desired that shows as small fluctuations as possible. The light from a low pressure discharge serves this purpose under the following conditions: a dc discharge, viewed end on, using a plane cathode mounted in a glass tube of larger diameter; the pressure that provides the highest conductivity of the discharge or a somewhat higher rather than lower pressure; a power supply of high voltage combined with a large series resistance. Under favorable conditions the light from the discharge produces a photoelectric current whose fluctuations are only about twice the inevitable shot noise.

© 1957 Optical Society of America

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