The total nitrogen-doped UNCD photocathode meeting examined on the Argonne Cathode Take a look at Stand beamline. The nitrogen-doped UNCD pattern is the darkish central piece within the picture. Credit score: Jiahang Shao/Argonne Nationwide Laboratory

In the case of producing high-quality electron beams like these present in state-of-the-art scientific gear like free-electron lasers, ultrafast electron diffraction and imaging and wakefield accelerators, scientists have appeared to photocathode know-how as a method to convert gentle to electrons. These instruments give researchers a method to extra deeply penetrate into supplies and atomic construction and conduct beneath real-world circumstances.


Photocathodes work via a course of referred to as the , wherein photons—usually emitted by a laser—strike a cloth, thrilling electrons off of its floor. Photocathodes are preferable to different types of cathodes as a result of they offer scientists the power to raised management the standard of the electron beam. But, photocathodes have room to enhance.

Scientists attempting to create a brand new have to develop a cloth that meets three totally different parameters. First, it has to have excessive “quantum effectivity”—the ratio of electrons produced per incoming photon. Second, it must have low intrinsic emittance, which measures how a lot the beam might diverge after it’s produced. Final, the photocathode should tolerate circumstances lower than an ideal vacuum.

In a brand new research from the U.S. Division of Power’s (DOE) Argonne Nationwide Laboratory, researchers have demonstrated a brand new materials that has a superb steadiness of those parameters.

The fabric itself—referred to as ultrananocrystalline diamond, or UNCD—is an Argonne-patented materials. Researchers at Argonne’s Middle for Nanoscale Supplies (CNM), a DOE Workplace of Science Consumer Facility, have synthesized UNCD by a chemical vapor deposition approach. The UNCD materials has existed for numerous years, however this research was the primary to use it to photocathodes in an RF photocathode gun surroundings, stated Argonne physicist Jiahang Shao. “UNCD was developed at Argonne for different purposes, however due to its we discovered that it additionally suited the wants of a complicated photocathode.”

In line with Shao, most earlier photocathodes might be both metallic or semiconducting. Every, he stated, had benefits and downsides. Metallic photocathodes have longer lifetimes as a result of they will survive in poor vacuum environments, however semiconducting photocathodes have increased quantum effectivity.

As a result of UNCD-based photocathodes may be chemically toggled to behave in a semi-metallic method, they will obtain advantages not essentially seen in pure metallic or semiconductor photocathodes, stated Gongxiaohui Chen, at present a postdoc at Argonne and first creator of the research.

“Usually, pure diamond acts as an insulator,” Chen stated. “However within the case of UNCD, it may be tuned via totally different doping methods to behave like a semimetal. Nitrogen-doped UNCD exhibits the next quantum effectivity worth than a number of the greatest metallic photocathodes, wonderful vacuum tolerance, higher than the entire semiconductor and even some metallic photocathodes, and reasonable intrinsic emittance, within the vary of state-of-the-art metallic and semiconductor photocathodes.”

The research was carried out on the Argonne Cathode Take a look at-stand. Future work consists of exams with an elevated cathode floor subject with an improved cathode meeting design, measurements of the cathode response time and characterization of floor terminated cathodes.

An article primarily based on the research, “Demonstration of nitrogen-incorporated ultrananocrystalline diamond photocathodes in a RF gun surroundings,” appeared within the October 27, 2020 subject of Utilized Physics Letters.


Scientists discover new method to measure essential beam property


Extra info:
Gongxiaohui Chen et al. Demonstration of nitrogen-incorporated ultrananocrystalline diamond photocathodes in a RF gun surroundings, Utilized Physics Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1063/5.0029512

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