Indexed on: 18 Aug '19Published on: 13 Aug '19Published in: Applied physics letters
Applied Physics Letters, Volume 115, Issue 7, August 2019. In this letter, we demonstrate that improved low energy electron absorption is achieved by suppressing the crystallinity of chromium thin-films grown on W, which points to a promising route for achieving highly efficient thermionic energy converters. Using low energy electron microscopy (LEEM) and in situ film growth, we show that substrate temperature control permits well-controlled fabrication of either epitaxial Cr films or nanocrystalline Cr layers. We show that the work function of cesium saturated nanocrystalline Cr thin-films is ∼0.20 eV lower than that of epitaxial Cr films. Our LEEM measurements of absorbed and reflected currents as a function of electron energy demonstrate that nanocrystallinity of cesiated chromium films results in 96% electron absorption in the range up to 1 eV above the work function, compared to just 79% absorption in cesiated crystalline Cr films. These results point to metal films with suppressed crystallinity as an economical and scalable means to synthesize nanoengineered surfaces with optimized properties for next generation anode materials in high performance thermionic energy converters.