A Caltech Library Service

The Effect of Surface Modification on the Photo-Electric Threshold of Mercury


Dunn, Hugh Kenneth (1925) The Effect of Surface Modification on the Photo-Electric Threshold of Mercury. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z0D9-RW50.


This work is a continuation of that of Kazda, who found the long wavelength limit of a mercury surface cleansed of impurities by means of a constant overflow.

Kazda's value of 2735A for the threshold of clean mercury is checked. When the surface flow is allowed to stop in a high vacuum, some impurity attacks the surface, quickly raising the threshold to 2850A. If liquid air is not used this impurity is present in larger amounts and attacks the running surface. Indications are that a surface film is formed and maintained in spite of the flow when liquid air is not used, or requires two hours or more of flow for removal if liquid air is used. This impurity cannot be one of the gases with extremely low melting points. It is not water, but may be a component of the stopcock grease. When the surface is left standing several days in a high vacuum its threshold falls to 2680A. If liquid air is not used the standing surface has a limit of 2560A. All of these values are closely reproducible. Pure hydrogen in contact with the surface does not change the photoelectric behavior. When the mercury is condensed in the presence of hydrogen, some of the gas is dissolved in the metal. This does not change the characteristic threshold of the mercury. It does, however, have the effect of greatly impeding the action of other impurities that form on the surface. This is indicated by the fact that over two hours is required for the change from the threshold of 2735A for the clean surface to the maximum of 2850A, as compared with 13 minutes for this change when hydrogen is not present.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Physics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Millikan, Robert Andrews
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:29 May 1925
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-06242004-094823
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2708
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:24 Jun 2004
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 23:20

Thesis Files

PDF (Dunn_hk_1925.pdf) - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page