In any VFD, a heated element (cathode) emits electrons that hit a thin layer of phosphor (anode) mixed with inert gases in a high pressure glass enclosure. Those electrons unleash a chain reaction of light when they release photons with a blue-ish wavelength.
Who needs action movies when you can stare at the VFD tubes in Chroniker all day, right? It’s got fantastic lighting, electrons moving at the speed of light, spectacular chain reactions and a climactic release of photons to top it all off. From the moment you flick the switch to the moment when you set your eyes on this gorgeous timepiece, a magical world unravels where you inner geek can feel right at home. For the sake of all mankind, though, you have to play it cool. Just imagine the following scenario.
After buying you the Chroniker for Christmas, your girlfriend meets up with her best friend:
‘I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING IMPORTANT, GIRL!’
‘WHAT IS IT? WHAT’S WRONG?’ her friend asks.
‘GIRL, I GOT MY BOYFRIEND THE WORST POSSIBLE GIFT THIS CHRISTMAS. I GOT HIM THAT CHRONIKER YOU TOLD ME ABOUT.’
‘WHAT? HE DIDN’T LIKE IT?’
‘OH, HE LIKED IT ALRIGHT! HE SITS IN FRONT OF IT ALL DAY LIKE IT’S SOME KIND OF OUTWORDLY MAGIC. HE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT PROTONS OR PHOTONS OR SOMETHING… SOMETHING ABOUT ELECTRON BOMBARDMENT OR THE SPEED OF LIGHT.’
‘DID YOU TRY TALKING TO HIM, GIRL?’
‘OH, I TRIED. I’M AFRAID I’VE LOST HIM.’
‘OH, MY… WELL, THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME. I’M NEVER BUYING THIS EVIL TOY FOR MY MAN.’
See what you did now? We told you to play it cool. Just in case you do get in trouble, here’s what you can do. You have to explain to your girlfriend just how the VFD tubes in Chroniker works, down to the really small details.
For instance, do you know how cathodoluminescence happens? With a semiconductor, luminescence occurs when an electron from the conduction band recombines with a hole in the valence band. This transition creates some excess energy, which is then emitted in the form of a photon (a.k.a. the awesome glow). For this to occur, though, the electron must first move from the lower-energy valence band to the higher-energy conductor band. In cathodoluminescence, the electron is excited as an indirect result of the impinging high energy electron beam directed at the semiconductor. This happens indirectly because the primary electrons carry far too much energy to excite other electrons. Instead, they go through an inelastic scattering and lead to the emission of secondary electrons, Auger electrons and X-rays. These also scatter and a cascade ensues.
For every incident electron, up to 103 secondary electrons are put in motion.
Isn’t it a beautiful thing? What – your girlfriend is still not impressed? Well, we’re beardy geeks that make gorgeous clocks. We never said we’re good at girlfriends.