Hot cathode neon arcs

@article{FoundHotCN,
  title={Hot cathode neon arcs},
  author={C. G. Found and J. Forney},
  journal={Journal of the A.I.E.E.},
  volume={47},
  pages={855-859}
}
In a discharge tube containing cold electrodes there is a very high-voltage drop at the cathode. Positive ions falling through this drop result in the emission of a small primary electron current which maintains the discharge by ionization by collision. Thus, we see that the function of the high cathode drop is the production of this primary electron current. 
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References

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