Understanding the Origin of the Universe

Great discoveries often need great tools. Powerful scientific accelerators, lasers and electron microscopes rely on photocathode materials. This colorized image, created using a helium ion microscope, shows a used photocathode electrode obtained from the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab). Photocathodes are used to direct high-energy beams, such as X-rays, at samples. Researchers at PNNL have made a first attempt to understand how and why the expensive photocathode materials degrade with repeated use. Knowing more could lead to longer-lasting photocathodes, less down time for maintenance, lower cost of instruments and deeper insight into the particles and forces that make up our universe.

Credit: PNNL/Vaithiyalingam Shutthanandan