We report on dark current and Schottky-enabled photoemission from a copper photocathode surface. Field-emitted dark current is a major gradient-limiting factor in RF cavities. Field emission is generally attributed to geometrical projections on the bulk surface whose field enhancement factor (β) and the emitting area (Ae ) can be extracted from the Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plot. Measurements were made at Tsinghua S-band RF gun facility in two separate experiments. Using the traditional FN formula for RF fields we discovered that field enhancement factor (β) alone cannot explain the full data set. Instead, we found that a low work function at some sites is required. In addition, surface analysis of the cathode after the experiment shows that geometric β indicated would be < 10. Thus we conclude that low work function sites with a small β are responsible for dark current emission and subsequent breakdown in high-gradient structures. The origin of these sites is unclear but could be due to defects or impurities.
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