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A fundamental study of the formation of negative hydrogen ions via surface conversion is presented. Employed is a novel type of converter, namely a porous tungsten button with liquid cesium flowing through it towards the side which is in contact with the plasma. A high cesium coverage, i.e., a small work function, can easily be maintained with this approach. This is related to the high flux of neutral cesium atoms to which the converter is exposed and to the small cesium density in the discharge. Despite the small work function, we obtain negative‐ion yields which are an order of magnitude smaller than is usually found in more conventional experiments, in which the converter is cesiated via injection of cesium vapor into the discharge. Furthermore, our energy distributions show that no negative ions are formed via desorption by cesium‐ion impact. This gives a strong indication that the extracted negative hydrogen ions are primarily formed via this process in cesium seeded discharges. Our view is confirmed by the observation that the negative‐ion yield increases with an order of magnitude when a small amount of argon gas is injected into the discharge.