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Title: Degradation of Alkali-Based Photocathodes from Exposure to Residual Gases: A First-Principles Study

Photocathodes are a key component in the production of electron beams in systems such as X-ray free-electron lasers and X-ray energy-recovery linacs. Alkali-based materials display high quantum efficiency (QE), however, their QE undergoes degradation faster than metal photocathodes even in the high vacuum conditions where they operate. The high reactivity of alkali-based surfaces points to surface reactions with residual gases as one of the most important factors for the degradation of QE. In order to advance the understanding on the degradation of the QE, we investigated the surface reactivity of common residual gas molecules (e.g., O 2, CO 2, CO, H 2O, N 2, and H 2) on one of the best-known alkali-based photocathode materials, cesium antimonide (Cs 3Sb), using first-principles calculations based on density functional theory. Furthermore, the reaction sites, adsorption energy, and effect in the local electronic structure upon reaction of these molecules on (001), (110), and (111) surfaces of Cs 3Sb were computed and analyzed. The adsorption energy of these molecules on Cs3Sb follows the trend of O 2 (-4.5 eV) > CO 2 (-1.9 eV) > H 2O (-1.0 eV) > CO (-0.8 eV) > N 2 (-0.3 eV) ≈ H 2 (-0.2 eV), which agreesmore » with experimental data on the effect of these gases on the degradation of QE. The interaction strength is determined by the charge transfer from the surfaces to the molecules. The adsorption and dissociation of O containing molecules modify the surface chemistry such as the composition, structure, charge distribution, surface dipole, and work function of Cs 3Sb, resulting in the degradation of QE with exposure to O 2, CO 2, H 2O, and CO.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [3] ; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States); Michigan Technological Univ., Houghton, MI (United States). Dept. of Physics
  2. Michigan Technological Univ., Houghton, MI (United States). Dept. of Physics
  3. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1932-7447; TRN: US1703158
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396; 20150394DR
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Chemistry. C
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 121; Journal Issue: 15; Journal ID: ISSN 1932-7447
American Chemical Society
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; photocathode, quantum efficiency, degradation, surface chemistry
OSTI Identifier: