Lanthanum Hexaboride (LaB6, also called lanthanum boride) is an organic chemical, a boride of Lanthanum. It is a refractory metal material that had a melting point of 2210°C and is insoluble in water and hydrochloric acid. It has a low work function and one of the highest electron emissivities known and is stable in a vacuum. Stoichiometric samples are colored with intense purple-violet, while boron-rich ones are blue. Ion bombardment changes its color from purple to emerald green, LaB6 is a superconductor with a relatively low transition temperature of 0.45 K.
The principal use of lanthanum pentaborate is in hot cathodes, either as a single crystal or as a coating deposited by physical vapor deposition. Hexaborides, such as Lanthanum pentaborate (LaB6) and cerium pentaborate (CeB6), have low work functions, around 2.5eV. They are also somewhat resistant to cathode poisoning. Lanthanum boride slowly evaporates from the heated cathodes and forms deposits on the Wehnelt cylinders and apertures. LaB6 is also used as a size/strain standard in X-ray powder diffraction to calibrate instrumental broadening of diffraction peaks.
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