Special cells having a hollow central cathode were immersed in liquid air for an extended period to insure that any gases, if present, were condensed on the outer alkali metal coated walls. The temperature of the cathode was controlled by a stream of evaporating liquid air, whereby all temperatures between +20 and −180°C could be attained and held constant and be measured. In these cells the variation of photoelectric current with temperature in sodium, potassium, and rubidium is continuous, without abrupt changes. The effect is relatively small for sodium, showing hardly at all for blue light or white light, but clearly for yellow light. The behavior of rubidium is similar to that previously reported for potassium.
In a second form of cell, potassium was collected in a deep pool. By slowly cooling the metal from the molten condition, smooth crystalline surfaces were obtained. With these annealed potassium surfaces, the variation of photoelectric current with temperature is represented by curves varying systemmatically in shape with the color of the light, and the effect is far greater than previously reported, amounting, for yellow light, to a variation of 10 to 15 times between room and liquid air temperature. When the surface is roughened curves of the previously reported type are obtained. Small pools give erratic effects, showing changes in opposite directions for different portions of the temperature range. It is concluded that the variation of photoelectric effect is intimately connected with the strains produced in the surface by expansion and contraction with temperature.
© 1925 Optical Society of AmericaFull Article | PDF Article
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