Technological applications of the electronic emission of atoms

In order for an electron to be detached from the atom to which it belongs, it must be removed through the use of certain techniques, such as the application of a large amount of energy in the form of heat or irradiation with highly energetic accelerated electron beams.

Technological applications of the electronic emission of atoms

The application of electric fields that have a force much greater than that related to rays, and even the use of lasers of great intensity and with a brightness greater than that of the solar surface are capable of achieving this electron-removing effect.

Main technological applications of the electronic emission of atoms

There are several mechanisms to achieve the electronic emission of atoms, which depend on some factors such as the place where the electrons that are emitted come from and the way in which these particles have the ability to move to cross a potential barrier of dimensions finite.

This amount of energy can be achieved through collisions with other electrons by transferring their kinetic energy, the application of heating or the absorption of light particles known as photons.

On the other hand, when it is desired to achieve the emission below the barrier, it must have the required thickness so that it is possible for the electrons to “pass through” it through a phenomenon called the tunneling effect.

In this order of ideas, the mechanisms to achieve electronic emissions are detailed below, each of which is followed by a list with some of its technological applications.

Emission of electrons by field effect

The emission of electrons by field effect occurs by the application of large fields of an electric type and of external origin. Among its most important applications are:

  • The production of electron sources that have a certain brightness to develop high-resolution electron microscopes.
  • The progress of different types of electron microscopy, where electrons are used to create images of very small bodies.
  • The elimination of induced charges from vehicles traveling through space, using charge neutralizers.
  • The creation and improvement of materials of small dimensions, such as nanomaterials.

Thermal emission of electrons

The thermal emission of electrons, also known as thermionic emission, is based on the heating of the surface of the body to be studied to cause electronic emission through its thermal energy. It has many applications:

  • The production of high-frequency vacuum transistors, which are used in the field of electronics.
  • The creation of guns that drop electrons, for use in science-class instrumentation.
  • The formation of semiconductor materials that have greater resistance to corrosion and improvement of the electrodes.
  • The efficient conversion of various types of energy, such as solar or thermal, into electrical energy.
  • The use of solar radiation systems or thermal energy to generate X-rays and use them in medical applications.

Electron photoemission and secondary electron emission

Electron photoemission is a technique based on the photoelectric effect, discovered by Einstein, in which the surface of the material is irradiated with radiation of a certain frequency, to transmit enough energy to the electrons to expel them from said surface.

In the same way, the secondary emission of electrons occurs when the surface of a material is bombarded with primary-type electrons that have a large amount of energy, so that these transfer energy to the secondary-type electrons so that they can be released from the surface.

These principles have been used in many studies that have achieved, among other things, the following:

  • The construction of photomultipliers, which are used in fluorescence, laser scanning microscopy and as detectors for low levels of light radiation.
  • The production of image sensor devices, by transforming optical images into electronic signals.
  • The creation of the gold electroscope, which is used in the illustration of the photoelectric effect.
  • The invention and improvement of night vision devices, to intensify the images of a dimly lit object.

Other apps

  • The creation of carbon-based nanomaterials for the development of electronics at the nano-scale.
  • The production of hydrogen by separating water, using photoandes and photocathodes from sunlight.
  • The generation of electrodes that have organic and inorganic properties for use in a greater variety of scientific and technological research and applications.
  • The search for the tracing of pharmacological products through organisms by means of isotopic labeling.
  • The elimination of microorganisms from pieces of great artistic value for their protection through the application of gamma rays in their conservation and restoration.
  • The production of energy sources to power satellites and spacecraft destined for outer space.
  • The creation of protection systems for research and systems that are based on the use of nuclear energy.
  • The detection of flaws or imperfections in materials in the industrial field through the use of X-rays.
Technological applications of the electronic emission of atoms

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