Skip to Main Content
Secondary electron emission is of great importance to the physicist because of its bearing upon the problem of the interactions between fundamental particles and to the radio engineer because of its applications, as well as its effect, upon the operation of electronic tubes. A complete theoretical picture capable of accounting quantitatively for all observed phenomena does not exist. Secondary electron emission differs from other modes of emission in many respects. The essential characteristics can best be evaluated by considering a typical experimental arrangement for investigating the phenomenon. Three categories of emitted electrons are recognized. The yield may depend upon various factors, such as the primary energy, collector voltage, target temperature, time, angle of incidence, atomic properties of target, and the composition of the target. The difficulties of propounding a satisfactory theory are evident from an individual consideration of each of the various processes involved. The primary interaction, primary energy loss, escape of secondaries, and integration over the range of the primary must each be treated to arrive at a final solution. In several previous attempts at formulating a theory, only the most loosely bound electrons in the solid have been regarded as constituting the source of secondary electrons. Normalizations are required for comparison of the results with existing experimental data. There are cogent reasons for regarding bound electrons as a very important source of secondaries.