Thermionic emission energy distribution from nanocrystalline diamond films for direct thermal-electrical energy conversion applications

Kishore Uppireddi, University of Puerto Rico
Tyler Westover, Purdue University - Main Campus
Timothy Fisher, Purdue University - Main Campus
Brad H. Weiner, University of Puerto Rico
Gerardo Morell, University of Puerto Rico

Date of this Version



DOI: 10.1063/1.3204667

This document has been peer-reviewed.



In the ongoing quest for energy production by nonconventional methods, energy conversion by vacuum and solid-state thermionic emission devices is one of the potentially efficient pathways for converting thermal energy directly into electrical power. The realization of practical of thermionic energy conversion devices strongly depends on achieving low work function materials, which is thus far a limiting factor. In an attempt to develop a new low work function thermionic material, this work reports thermionic emission energy distributions (TEEDs) from nanocrystalline diamond (NCD) films in the temperature range from 700 to 900 degrees C that reveal a consistent effective work function of 3.3 eV. The NCD films also exhibit emission peaks corresponding to higher work functions as indicated by shifts in their energy position and relative intensity as a function of temperature. These shifts thus appear to be related to instabilities in the NCD's surface chemistry. The analysis of these data yields information on the origin of the low effective work function of NCD. (C) 2009 American Institute of Physics.


Engineering | Nanoscience and Nanotechnology