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

Kishore Uppireddi, University of Puerto Rico - San Juan
Tyler Westover, Purdue University - Main Campus
Timothy Fisher, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Brad Weiner, University of Puerto Rico - San Juan
Gerardo Morell, University of Puerto Rico - San Juan

Date of this Version



J. Appl. Phys. 106, 043716 (2009); 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 °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.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology