|electron tube |
A sealed glass tube containing either a vacuum or a small amount of gas, in which electrons move from a negatively charged electrode, the cathode, to a positively charged one, the anode. The cathode is usually heated by an electric current to free the electrons. Other electrodes in the tube can vary the electric or magnetic fields in the tube to control the strength and direction of the moving electrons. Electron tubes are used to amplify signals, rectify AC currents, and produce x-rays, among other uses. They have been mostly replaced by transistors but are still used in television screens, computer monitors, and microwave technology. Also called valve. See also vacuum tube.