Scandate cathodes have exhibited superior emission properties compared to current state-of-the-art “M-type” thermionic cathodes. However, their integration into vacuum devices is limited in part by a lack of knowledge regarding their functional lifespan and behavior during operation. Here, we consider thermal desorption from scandate cathodes by examining the distribution of material deposited on interior surfaces of a sealed vacuum device after ~26,000 h of cathode operation. XPS, EDS, and TEM analyses indicate that on the order of 1 wt.% of the initial impregnate is desorbed during a cathode’s lifetime, Ca does not desorb uniformly with time, and little to no Sc desorbs from the cathode surfaces (or does so at an undetectable rate). Findings from this first-ever study of a scandate cathode after extremely long-time operation yield insight into the utility of scandate cathodes as components in vacuum devices and suggest possible effects on device performance due to deposition of desorption products on interior device surfaces.
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This work was financially supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Innovative Vacuum Electronics Science and Technology (INVEST) program, under grant number N66001-16-1-4041.
Seif, Mujan N.; Balk, Thomas John; and Beck, Matthew J., "Desorption from Hot Scandate Cathodes: Effects on Vacuum Device Interior Surfaces after Long-Term Operation" (2020). Chemical and Materials Engineering Faculty Publications. 74.