Cocchi, C.; Mistry, S.; Schmeisser, M.; Amador, R.; Kühn, J.; Kamps, Th.: Electronic structure and core electron Fingerprints of caesium-based multi-alkali antimonides for ultra-bright electron sources. Scientific Reports 9 (2019), p. 18276/1-12
Open Accesn Version

The development of novel photocathode materials for ultra-bright electron sources demands efficient and cost-effective strategies that provide insight and understanding of the intrinsic material properties given the constraints of growth and operational conditions. To address this question, we propose a viable way to establish correlations between calculated and measured data on core electronic states of Cs-K-Sb materials. To do so, we combine first-principles calculations based on all-electron density-functional theory on the three alkali antimonides Cs3Sb, Cs2KSb, and CsK2Sb with x-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) on Cs-K-Sb photocathode samples. Within the GW approximation of many-body perturbation theory, we obtain quantitative predictions of the band gaps of these materials, which range from 0.57 eV in Cs2KSb to 1.62 eV in CsK2Sb and manifest direct or indirect character depending on the relative potassium content. Our theoretical electronic-structure analysis also reveals that the core states of these systems have binding energies that depend only on the atomic species and their crystallographic sites, with largest shifts of the order of 2 eV and 0.5 eV associated to K 2p and Sb 3d states, respectively. This information can be correlated to the maxima in the XPS survey spectra, where such peaks are clearly visible. In this way, core-level shifts can be used as fingerprints to identify specific compositions of Cs-K-Sb materials and their relation with the measured values of quantum efficiency. Our results represent the first step towards establishing a robust connection between the experimental preparation and characterization of photocathodes, the ab initio prediction of their electronic structure, and the modeling of emission and beam formation processes.