U.S. Particle Accelerator School

PhotoCathode Physics


University of California, San Diego Extension

Course Name:

PhotoCathode Physics


Ivan Bazarov and Jared Maxon, Cornell University; Sid Karkare, Arizona State University

Purpose and Audience
Photocathodes are a ubiquitous choice for electron source in high brightness linear accelerator applications ranging from x-ray free-electron lasers, high-average-current Energy Recovery Linacs, polarized electron sources for future colliders, and more recently for ultrafast time-resolved electron diffraction and microscopy experiments. This course is designed to provide an overview of the physics, fabrication and operation of photocathodes in these accelerator applications. It is appropriate for graduate students in physics/materials-science, and engineering and practicing accelerator physicists and engineers who wish to broaden their knowledge. It is strongly suggested that the students take this course in conjunction with the High Brightness Electron Injectors course offered in the 2nd week of the USPAS session.

Undergraduate level Classical Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism are required.  Basic knowledge of Quantum Mechanics and familiarity with programming languages are necessary.  Familiarity with Accelerator Science and Technology at the level of USPAS Fundamentals of Accelerator Physics and Technology with Simulations and Measurements Lab or USPAS graduate Accelerator Physics is recommended.

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he or she meets the course prerequisites or has equivalent experience.

This course aims to give the students an understanding of the photoemission process and how various materials and surface properties of cathodes affect the performance of the photoinjector, dictate the demands on the drive lasers, and hence impact the design and performance of different accelerator applications. It will also introduce students to the various cathode materials and their typical performance in accelerators and thereby provide a basic understanding of why one technology may be chosen over the other.

Instructional Method
This course includes a series of lectures in the morning and afternoon sessions. Daily problem sets will be assigned for each session to reinforce materials taught in the lectures. There will also be computer modeling sessions, which will include the use Monte Carlo techniques and the use of density functional theory codes.  The instructors will be available for guidance during evening homework sessions.

Course Content
This course will provide an overview of the requirements from photocathodes for various accelerator applications and discuss how the various cathode materials fulfil those requirements and perform in photoinjectors. The physics of photoemission and how photoemission properties relevant to accelerators emerge from materials physics and the surface properties of the photocathode will be discussed. The theoretical maximum beam brightness achievable from photocathode sources will be formulated in terms of the material properties of the cathode. We will overview materials, growth processes, and surface characterization techniques that can determine the quality of a photocathode. Various photoemission diagnostics used to measure the accelerator relevant properties of photocathodes will be discussed.

Reading Requirements
Class notes will be provided on a course web site that will serve as the primary reference.  Supplemental text provided by the USPAS: Future of Electron Sources, report of the BES DOE Workshop, 2016 and Advances in Bright Electron Sources, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A 907 (2018) 209.

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on performance as follows: homework assignments (75% of course grade), class participation (25% of course grade).

UC San Diego course number: PHYS 40017
Indiana University course number and title on transcript: Physics 671, Advanced Topics in Accelerator Physics
Michigan State University course number: PHY 963
MIT course number: 8.790 Accelerator Physics