Frontiers in Thermionic Cathode Research

David M. Kirkwood, Steven J. Gross, Thomas John Balk, Matthew J. Beck, John Booske, Daniel Busbaher, Ryan Jacobs, Martin E. Kordesch, Bryan Mitsdarffer, Dane Morgan, William Devereux Palmer, Bernard Vancil, Joan E. Yater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

The high electron emission resulting from low-work-function scandate-added dispenser cathodes has generated a great deal of interest and research since the late 1970s. Despite the reported high current density at low temperatures, scandate cathodes have not yet seen wide-scale industrial adoption due to poor emission uniformity, inadequate reproducibility, and short lifetimes. This lack of industrial adoption stemming from the above issues is likely due to insufficient fundamental understanding of the role that scandium plays in the emission process. Recent work by five research teams under the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Innovative Vacuum Electronics Science and Technology Program aims at advancing this fundamental understanding and the cathode manufacturing processing. Emission microscopy of model surfaces of adsorbed Ba-Sc-O on single crystal tungsten and detailed characterization techniques, such as Wulff shape analysis, are being used to understand the morphology, composition and phase of each of the species that comprise the cathode emitting surfaces. The structure of tungsten grains at the cathode surface of activated and unactivated scandate cathodes and the resulting emission performance are observed. 3-D printing is being investigated as an advanced manufacturing method to meet the demanding requirements of modern vacuum electron devices. Finally, density functional theory is being employed to study the work function of perovskite oxides as a novel class of alternative materials to tungsten dispenser cathodes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2061-2071
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Electron Devices
Volume65
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research Projects Agency Innovative Vacuum Electronics Science and Technology Program aims at advancing this fundamental understanding and the cathode manufacturing processing. Emission microscopy of model surfaces of

Funding Information:
Manuscript received November 13, 2017; revised January 16, 2018; accepted January 22, 2018. Date of publication April 5, 2018; date of current version May 21, 2018. This material is based on work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Pacific, and the Naval Systems Warfare Center Crane under Contract No. HR0011-16-C-0083, Contract No. N66001-16-C-4033, Grant No. N66001-16-1-4040, Grant No. N66001-16-1-4041, and Grant No. N66001-16-1-4043, and by the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Center for Functional Nanomaterials, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Facility under Grant No. DE-SC0012704. The review of this paper was arranged by Editor D. K. Abe. (Corresponding author: David M. Kirkwood.) D. M. Kirkwood is with Booz Allen Hamilton, Arlington, VA 22203 USA (e-mail: kirkwood_david@bah.com).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 IEEE.

Keywords

  • Cathodes
  • electron beams
  • electron emission
  • electron guns
  • electron tubes
  • scandate cathodes
  • thermionic emission
  • vacuum electron devices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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