U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Physical Review Special Topics - Accelerators And Beams 15, 083502 (2012); DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTAB.15.083502


The field emission characteristics of niobium electrodes were compared to those of stainless steel electrodes using a DC high voltage field emission test apparatus. A total of eight electrodes were evaluated: two 304 stainless steel electrodes polished to mirror like finish with diamond grit and six niobium electrodes (two single-crystal, two large-grain, and two fine-grain) that were chemically polished using a buffered-chemical acid solution. Upon the first application of high voltage, the best large-grain and single-crystal niobium electrodes performed better than the best stainless steel electrodes, exhibiting less field emission at comparable voltage and field strength. In all cases, field emission from electrodes (stainless steel and/or niobium) could be significantly reduced and sometimes completely eliminated, by introducing krypton gas into the vacuum chamber while the electrode was biased at high voltage. Of all the electrodes tested, a large-grain niobium electrode performed the best, exhibiting no measurable field emission (< 10 pA) at 225 kV with 20 mm cathode/anode gap, corresponding to field strength of 18:7 MV/m.