thermionic emission

thermionic emission
the phenomenon of electron or ion emission from the heated surface of a conductor

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      discharge of electrons from heated materials, widely used as a source of electrons in conventional electron tubes (e.g., television picture tubes) in the fields of electronics and communications. The phenomenon was first observed (1883) by Thomas A. Edison (Edison, Thomas Alva) as a passage of electricity from a filament to a plate of metal inside an incandescent lamp.

      In thermionic emission, the heat supplies some electrons with at least the minimal energy required to overcome the attractive force holding them in the structure of the metal. This minimal energy, called the work function, is characteristic of the emitting material and the state of contamination of its surface. See also field emission.

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Universalium. 2010.

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