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Traditionally, thermionic emitters have been the workhorse electron sources for particle accelerators. Over the past two decades, laser switched photocathodes have become increasingly important for applications that require very high brightness, short pulse, electron beams. Such applications include high-energy and nuclear physics, and light sources such as free-electron lasers. I will discuss the basic physics, design and utility of metallic and semiconductor cathodes photocathodes in both DC and RF electron guns.