Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/338

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324
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

PRODUCTION OF SOUND BY RADIANT ENERGY.[1]
By ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL.

AT the time of my communication to the American Association[2] the loudest effects obtained were produced by the use of selenium, arranged in a cell of suitable construction, and placed in a galvanic circuit with a telephone. Upon allowing an intermittent beam of sunlight to fall upon the selenium, a musical tone of great intensity was produced from the telephone connected with it.

But the selenium was very inconstant in its action. It was rarely, if ever, found to be the case that two pieces of selenium (even of the PSM V19 D338 Tellurium cell for light energy generation experiments.jpgFig. 7 same stick) yielded the same results under identical circumstances of annealing, etc. While in Europe last autumn, Dr. Chichester Bell, of University College, London, suggested to me that this inconstancy of result might be due to chemical impurities in the selenium used. Dr. Bell has since visited my laboratory in Washington, and has made a chemical examination of the various samples of selenium I had collected from different parts of the world. As I understand it to be his intention to publish the results of this analysis very soon, I shall make no further mention of his investigation than to state that he has found sulphur, iron, lead, and arsenic in the so-called "selenium," with traces of organic matter; that a quantitative examination has revealed the fact that sulphur constitutes nearly one per cent, of the whole mass; and that when these impurities are eliminated the selenium appears to be more constant in its action and more sensitive to light.

Professor W. G. Adams[3] has shown that tellurium, like selenium, has its electrical resistance affected by light, and we have attempted to utilize this substance in place of selenium. The arrangement of cell (shown in Fig. 7) was constructed for this purpose in the early

  1. Continued from page 197.
  2. "Proceedings of American Association for the Advancement of Science," August 27, 1880; see, also, "American Journal of Science," vol. xx, p. 305; "Journal of the American Electrical Society," vol, iii, p. 3; "Journal of the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians," vol. ix, p. 404; "Annales de Chimie et de Physique," vol. xxi.
  3. "Proceedings of the Royal Society," vol. xxiv, p. 163.