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Cerium hexaboride

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Cerium hexaboride (CeB6, also called cerium boride, CeBix, CEBIX, and (incorrectly) CeB) is an inorganic chemical, a boride of cerium. It is a refractory ceramic material. It has low work function and one of the highest electron emissivity known, and is stable in vacuum. Its CAS number is [12008-02-5].

The principial use of cerium hexaboride is a coating of hot cathodes, or hot cathodes made of cerium hexaboride crystals. It usually operates at temperature of 1450 °C.

Lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6) and cerium hexaboride (CeB6) are used as coating of some high-current hot cathodes. Hexaborides show low work function, around 2.5 eV. They are also somewhat resistant to cathode poisoning. Cerium boride cathodes show lower evaporation rate at 1700 K than lanthanum boride, but it becomes equal at 1850 K and higher above that. Cerium boride cathodes have one and half the lifetime of lanthanum boride, due to its higher resistance to carbon contamination. Boride cathodes are about ten times as "bright" than the tungsten ones and have 10-15 times longer lifetime. They are used eg. in electron microscopes, microwave tubes, electron lithography, electron beam welding, X-Ray tubes, and free electron lasers.

Cerium hexaboride, like lanthanum hexaboride, slowly evaporates during the cathode operation. While the process is about 30% slower than with lanthanum boride,[1] the cerium boride deposits are reported to be more difficult to remove. [2]

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