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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also dark-trace tube), a cathode-ray tube whose screen darkens wherever an electron beam impinges, changing to one of the colors in the violet-brown region of the visible spectrum. The degree of darkening depends on the energy of the electrons and on the current density. The screen of a skiatron consists of a colorless crystalline layer of sodalite or a hal-ide of an alkali metal, which is applied to a thin mica sheet or to the bottom of the tube’s bulb. Since the trace on the screen can persist for a very long time—up to several days or even months—a skiatron is provided with means for erasing the written information rapidly (in a few seconds), usually by warming the screen for a short time.

The bombardment of sodalite or of halides of alkali metals by electrons causes light-absorption centers to form in the material; these centers are responsible for the color change peculiar to the substance. When a crystal is illuminated, intensive light absorption occurs in these centers and the crystals, which were originally transparent, acquire a color complementary to the color of the absorbed light. For example, after absorbing light in the yellow-green portion of the spectrum, KCI crystals become violet; after absorbing blue light, KBr crystals become brown.

Skiatrons are used to obtain radar images for subsequent projection onto a large screen. In this case, the skiatron screen is illuminated with a bright light source.


Zhigarev, A. A. Elektronnaia optika i elektronnoluchevye pribory. Moscow, 1972.
Kushmanov, I. V., N. N. Vasil’ev, and A. G. Leont’ev. Elektronnye pribory. Moscow, 1973.

M. V. TSEKHANOVICH [23–1502–]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.