We report a design of photocathode, which combines the good photoemissive properties of lead (Pb) and the advantages of superconducting performance of niobium (Nb) when installed into a superconducting radio-frequency gun. The new configuration is obtained by a coating of Nb thin film grown on a disk of Pb via pulsed laser deposition. The central emitting area of Pb is masked by a shield to avoid the Nb deposition. The nanomechanical properties of the Nb film, obtained through nanoindentation measurements, reveal a hardness of 2.8±0.3 GPa, while the study of the electrical resistivity of the film shows the appearance of the superconducting transitions at 9.3 K and 7.3 K for Nb and Pb, respectively, very close to the bulk material values. Additionally, morphological, structural and contamination studies of Nb thin film expose a very low droplet density on the substrate surface, a small polycrystalline orientation of the films and a low contamination level. These results, together with the acceptable Pb quantum efficiency of 2×10−5 found at 266 nm, demonstrate the potentiality of the new concept photocathode.
Funding agencies: Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN); Italian MIUR through the Project FIRB Futuro in Ricerca [RBFR12NK5K]; Swedish Government Strategic Research Area in Materials Science on Functional Materials at Linkoping University [2009-00971]