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A new electron bombardment evaporation source for ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) thin film deposition is presented. It is based on an original electrodes configuration (modeled on that of a vacuum triode) featuring, besides anode and filament, a biased grid acting as a power modulator. The presence of a polarized grid helps to minimize space charge problems, to improve electron focusing and to fine control the dissipation on the evaporating material, governing the sublimation rate. The electrodes geometry was optimized by studying electron trajectories and electrical field distribution in the electrodes zone with ray-tracing analysis. Mechanical solutions and electrodes geometry were designed to ensure low outgassing and UHV compatibility, as well as to facilitate maintenance and source cleaning. The evaporator is water cooled and a mechanically operated shutter is present. The working principles and the technical details are presented together with operating data and evaporation performances. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.