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thyratron

[thahy-ruh-tron] /ˈθaɪ rəˌtrɒn/
noun, Electronics.
1.
a gas-filled, hot-cathode tube in which one or more control electrodes initiate, but do not limit and cannot interrupt, the flow of electrons.
Origin
1925-1930
1925-30; < Greek thýra door + -tron
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for thyratron

thyratron

/ˈθaɪrəˌtrɒn/
noun
1.
(electronics) a gas-filled tube that has three electrodes and can be switched between an `off' state and an `on' state. It has been superseded, except for application involving high-power switching, by the thyristor
Word Origin
C20: originally a trademark, from Greek thura door, valve + -tron
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Encyclopedia Article for thyratron

gas-filled discharge chamber that contains a cathode filament, an anode plate, and one or more grids. An inert gas or metal vapour fills the discharge chamber. The grid controls only the starting of a current and thus provides a trigger effect. The normal grid potential is negative with respect to the cathode and prevents electrons from flowing to the plate and exciting a discharge. To cause a discharge, the grid potential is raised enough to start electrons flowing from the cathode. As free electrons stream toward the plate, they collide with gas molecules, freeing other electrons and ionizing the gas within the discharge chamber. When a sufficient number of ions and electrons are present, a "short" occurs, and a large current flows from the cathode to the plate, causing a discharge. The discharge can take place in a few hundred-millionths of a second. The discharge stops when the anode voltage has been sufficiently lowered. Thyratron tubes are used typically in radar pulse modulators, particle accelerators, lasers, and high-voltage medical equipment.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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