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An investigation on the soft x rays emitted in a 2.2 kJ Mather-type dense plasma focus device using a multichannel diode spectrometer and a simple pinhole camera is reported. Emitted x rays associated with different shapes (hollow, solid, and hemispherical) of anode and in hydrogen/nitrogen gas medium are compared. The structure of x-ray emitting sites as well as x-ray yields were found to be strongly influenced by the shape of the anode and the filling gas pressure. The maximum yield of 2.2 J into 4π sr was obtained in the case of hemispherical anode in hydrogen gas medium. The x-ray pinhole images of the collapsed plasma with the hemispherical anode indicated spot-like structure having 500–800 μm in diameter. On the contrary, other anode shapes showed columnar pinched structure of 8–10 mm in length and 1–2 mm in diameter. Results indicated that an appropriate design of the anode could enhance the x-ray yield by more than tenfold in a conventional low energy dense plasma focus device. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.