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Preparation and evaluation of metal surfaces for use as photocathodes

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posted on 04.07.2018 by Sonal Mistry
In linear accelerator driven 4th generation Free Electron Lasers (FELs), the final beam quality is set by the linac and ultimately by its photoinjector and photocathode. Therefore, to deliver cutting-edge beam characteristics, there are stringent requirements for the photocathode used in the photoinjector. Understanding how surface properties of materials influence photocathode properties such as quantum efficiency (QE) and intrinsic emittance is critical for such sources. Metal photocathode research at Daresbury Laboratory (DL) is driven by our on-site accelerators VELA (Versatile Electron Linear Accelerator) and CLARA (Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications), a free electron laser test facility. Metals offer the advantage of a fast response time which enable the generation of short electron pulses. Additionally, they are robust to conditions within the gun cavity. The main challenge with metal photocathodes is to maximise their (relatively) low electron yield. In this PhD thesis, the goal has been to carry out an experimental investigation on alternative metals to copper, correlating surface properties with photoemissive properties. A range of surface analysis techniques have been employed: surface composition was investigated using X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy and Medium Energy Ion Scattering, Kelvin Probe apparatus and Ultra-violet Photoelectron Spectroscopy were used to measure work function, and Atomic Force Microscopy and Interferometric microscope provided images characterising surface morphology. The photocathode properties studied include: QE measured using a 265 nm UV LED source that was later upgraded to a 266 nm UV LASER, and Mean Transverse Energy measured using the Transverse Energy Spread Spectrometer. As a result of this work, Mg, Nb, Pb, Ti and Zr have all been identified as photocathode candidate materials, each exhibiting a QE greater than Cu. Additionally, surface preparation procedures for optimising QE from a selection of metals has been explored; the findings of these experiments would suggest that ex-situ Ar plasma treatment followed by in-situ heat treatment is well suited to remove surface contaminants without altering the surface morphology of the cathode. As part of this work, metallic thin films produced by magnetron sputtering have been produced; ultimately the chosen cathode metal will be deposited onto a cathode plug which will be inserted into the electron gun that will drive CLARA. Thus the preparation of metal thin films has been investigated and the effect of different substrate materials on the film properties has been explored. Preliminary experiments studying the effects of surface roughness on photoelectron energy distribution have been conducted; the findings have not been conclusive, thus further systematic studies are required.





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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.




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