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Mystery Solved! Why do certain materials emit electrons with very specific energy?

Some materials emit electrons after irradiating with mild. Such electrons are referred to as photoelectrons.

In materials analysis, so-called “Auger electrons” additionally play an crucial function – atoms can emit them if an electron is first got rid of from one of the most internal electron shells.

Now, scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) have reported an absolutely other form of electron emission. This new more or less electron emission can happen in carbon materials comparable to graphite. Despite the truth that it’s recognized for roughly 5 many years, however its purpose stays difficult to understand.

Prof. Wolfgang Werner from the Institute of Applied Physics mentioned, “Many researchers have already wondered about this. Some materials consist of atomic layers held together only by weak Van der Waals forces, for example, graphite. And it was discovered that this type of graphite emits particular electrons, which all have the same energy, namely 3.7 electron volts.”

“No known physical mechanism could explain this electron emission. But at least the measured energy indicated where to look: If these atomically thin layers lie on top of each other, a certain electron state can form in between. You can imagine it as an electron that is continuously reflected back and forth between the two layers until, at some point, it penetrates the layer and escapes to the outside.”

Dr. Alessandra Bellissimo, one of the most authors of the present newsletter, mentioned, “The energy of these states fits well with the observed data – so people assumed that there is some connection, but that alone was no explanation. The electrons in these states should not reach the detector. In the language of quantum physics, one would say: The transition probability is just too low.”

Wolfgang Werner mentioned, “To change this, the internal symmetry of the electron states must be broken. You can imagine this like rope skipping. Two children hold a long rope and move the endpoints. Both create a wave that would normally propagate from one side of the rope to the other. But if the system is symmetrical and both children behave the same way, the rope moves up and down. The wave maximum always remains at the same place. We don’t see any wave movement to the left or right; this is called a standing wave.”

“But if the symmetry is broken because, for example, one of the children moves backward, the situation is different – then the dynamics of the rope changes and the maximum position of the oscillation moves.”

This more or less symmetry breaks too can happen within the subject matter. Electrons depart their position and get started transferring, leaving a “hole” in the back of. Such electron-hole pairs disturb the symmetry of the fabric. In this way, the electrons out of nowhere have the houses of 2 other states concurrently. 

Along those traces, two benefits will also be blended: On the only hand, there are numerous such electrons, and alternatively, their chance of achieving the detector is adequately top. In a superbly symmetrical gadget, just one or the opposite could be possible. As indicated through quantum mechanics, they may be able to do each concurrently since the symmetry refraction makes the 2 states “merge” (hybridize).

Prof. Florian Libisch from the Institute of Theoretical Physics mentioned, “In a sense, it is teamwork between the electrons reflected back and forth between two layers of the material and the symmetry-breaking electrons. Only when you look at them together can you explain that the material emits electrons of exactly this energy of 3.7 electron volts.”

Wolfgang Werner mentioned, “Carbon materials such as the type of graphite analyzed in this research work play a major role today – for example, the 2D material graphene, but also carbon nanotubes of tiny diameter, which also have remarkable properties. The effect should occur in very different materials – wherever thin layers are held together by weak Van der Waals forces. In all these materials, this very special type of electron emission, which we can now explain for the first time, should play an important role.”

Journal Reference:

Wolfgang S. M. Werner et al. Secondary Electron Emission through Plasmon-Induced Symmetry Breaking in Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.196603

About the author

Kanishk Singh

Kanishk Singh

Kanishk is a passionate blogger and has been working with many websites as the content writer and editor. Besides, he has also written guest editorials in local magazines. Contact him at kanishk@indiacolumnist.com

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