We offer an advanced physics lab course on “Laser-induced electron emission from a microstructured metal surface”. Investigation involves electron emission from a self-made, nanostructured gold surface which is illuminated by an ultrashort, ultraviolet laser pulse. Of particular interest is the comparison of laser-induced electron emission from a flat, polished surface and a nanostructured surface with clusters of size similar to the laser wavelength (260 nm). A
nanostructured surface can show significant enhancement in electron emission due to field enhancement and plasmonic effects.
The investigation of electron emission from a metal surface (cathode) is a very important field
of research for modern electron accelerators delivering high-quality electron beams (high
quality means "low emittance" and "high brightness"). Such accelerators are used, for example,
for the latest generation of Free Electron Lasers, which are capable to produce extremely short coherent x-ray pulses down to a wavelength of 1 Ångstrom (0.1 nm). Since state of the art linear accelerators maintain the properties of relativistic electron beams the development of novel type of cathodes and the exploration of the involved electron emission processes becomes more important.