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What is the relationship that exists between an ionization chamber's current and the atmosphere to which it is exposed and what are the important considerations in ionization chamber design? The objective of this paper is to provide an answer to this question so that an ionization chamber type sensor can be designed to determine changes in the composition of a gas. The theory of ionization chamber operation and design is presented along with a complete derivation of the coaxial- and parallel-plate ionization chamber current equations. The paper is brought to a conclusion with a practical design example in which the ionization chamber sensor is used to detect the presence of aerosols in the air during the incipient stage of a combustion process.