A thermionic energy converter with an electrolytically etched tungsten emitter

G.H.M. Gubbels, R. Metselaar

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The bare work functions of etched and unetched plasma-sprayed tungsten were found to be 4.8 and 4.5 eV, respectively. The electron emission of plasma-sprayed tungsten, both etched and unetched, was measured over a wide range of temperatures in a cesium atmosphere. Work functions were derived from the saturation current densities. In the ignited mode, current-voltage (I-V) characteristics were measured. The influence of the emitter, collector, and cesium reservoir temperatures on the I-V characteristics was investigated. Barrier indexes of 2.06 and 2.30 eV were found for etched and unetched tungsten emitters, respectively. At an emitter temperature of 1400¿°C, in the case of an unetched tungsten emitter a power density of 1.5 W/cm2 was found, while for an etched tungsten emitter it was 4.5 W/cm2. This increased power density could be attributed to a lower collector work function. The lower cesiated collector work function resulted from the evaporation of oxygen, as WO3, from the etched tungsten emitter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1883-1889
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1990

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