Photonically excited electron emission from modified graphitic nanopetal arrays

Patrick T. McCarthy, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Scott J. Vander Laan, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
David B. Janes, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Timothy S. Fisher, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Date of this Version



Copyright 2013 American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in J. Appl. Phys. 113, 193710 (2013); and may be found at The following article has been accepted by the Journal of Applied Physics. Copyright 2013 Patrick T., McCarthy, Scott J. Vander Laan, David B. Janes and Timothy S. Fisher. This article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


Efficient electron emission for energy conversion requires a low work function and a stable emitter material. The work function of graphene-based carbon materials can decrease significantly by intercalation with alkali metals, thus increasing their emission current. In this work, electron emission from potassium-intercalated carbon nanosheet extensions grown on electrode graphite is investigated. These petal-like structures, composed of 5-25 layers of graphene, are synthesized using microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition. Samples are intercalated with potassium, and a hemispherical energy analyzer is used to measure the emission intensity caused by both thermal and photonic excitation. The emission from the potassium-intercalated structures is found to consistently decrease the work function by 2.4 to 2.8 eV relative to non-intercalated samples. High emission intensity induced by photonic excitation from a solar simulator, with a narrow electron energy distribution relative to established theory, suggests that electron scattering decreases emitted electron energy as compared to surface photoemission. A modified photoemission theory is applied to account for electron scattering, and the sample work function and mean number of scattering events are used as parameters to fit theory to experimental data. The thermal stability of the intercalated nanopetals is investigated, and after an initial heating and cooling cycle, the samples are stable at low temperatures. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology