When γ-radiation passes through a gas it ionizes by means of fast electrons which produce clusters of secondary ionization at intervals along their paths. At high pressures a considerable amount of recombination of ions takes place in these clusters; in the present paper a theory is described which enables the proportion of ions escaping recombination to be calculated as a function of the gas pressure and collecting field. A review of the available experimental data concerning the variation of ionization current with pressure and collecting field is given, and it is shown that the predictions of the cluster recombination theory are in satisfactory agreement with these experimental data.
Jaffé has given a theory of initial recombination valid for a columnar distribution of ionization, and has shown that this theory is in agreement with experiments in which α-particles produce the ionization. A number of authors have applied Jaffé's equations to ionization produced by fast electrons regardless of the initial localization of the ions in clusters. It is shown in the present paper that such measure of agreement with experiment as is obtained by this procedure is only obtained at the expense of assigning incorrect values to certain known constants. Also in the case of X- and γ-rays the columnar theory predicts a variation of the proportion of recombination with the wave-length of the radiation which is much too rapid. It is further shown that the method based on Jaffé's equations which is used by Clay and his colleagues to extrapolate experimental ionization currents at finite collecting fields to saturation currents at infinite fields is liable to systematic error in a direction likely to lead to the deduction of a spurious wall effect or the exaggeration of an existing wall effect.