Electronic Transition Imaging of Carbon Based Materials: The Photothreshold of Melanin and Thermionic Field Emission from Diamond

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Title: Electronic Transition Imaging of Carbon Based Materials: The Photothreshold of Melanin and Thermionic Field Emission from Diamond
Author: Garguilo, Jacob Marshall
Advisors: Glenn Edwards, Committee Member
Harald Ade, Committee Member
Robert Nemanich, Committee Chair
Keith Weninger, Committee Member
Ron Scattergood, Committee Member
Abstract: This study explores electronic transitions in carbon based materials through the use of a custom built, non rastering electron emission microscope. The specifics and history of electron emission are described as well as the equipment used in this study. The materials examined fall into two groups, melanosome films isolated from the human body and polycrystalline diamond tip arrays. A novel technique for determining the photothreshold of a heterogeneous material on a microscopic or smaller scale is developed and applied to melanosome films isolated from the hair, eyes, and brain of human donors. The conversion of the measured photothreshold on the vacuum scale to an electrochemical oxidation potential is discussed and the obtained data is considered based on this conversion. Pheomelanosomes isolated from human hair are shown to have significantly lower photoionization energy than eumelanosomes, indicating their likelihood as sources of oxidative stress. The ionization energies of the hair melanosomes are checked with complimentary procedures. Ocular melanosomes from the retinal pigment epithelium are measured as a function of patient age and melanosome shape. Lipofuscin, also found in the eye, is examined with the same microscopy technique and shown to have a significantly lower ionization threshold than RPE melanosomes. Neuromelanin from the substantia nigra is also examined and shown to have an ionization threshold close to that of eumelanin. A neuromelanin formation model is proposed based on these results. Polycrystalline diamond tip arrays are examined for their use as thermionic energy converter emitters. Thermionic energy conversion is accomplished through the combination of a hot electron emitter in conjunction with a somewhat cooler electron collector. The generated electron current can be used to do work in an external load. It is shown that the tipped structures of these samples result in enhanced emission over the surrounding flat areas, which may prove valuable in limiting the negative space charge effect in vacuum energy converting devices. Additionally, the effects of exceeding a threshold temperature for the films are shown, establishing a maximum operating regime for any device which incorporates hydrogen terminated diamond.
Date: 2006-12-06
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Physics
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5407

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