Preliminary Evidence of Field Induced Rhenium Etching by XeF₂ at High Vacuum
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Preliminary evidence of enhanced etching of rhenium by XeF2 under the influence of an electric field (3.36 GV/m) is presented. Scanning electron microscope photographs of sharp rhenium tips show etching of at least 0.40 µm ±0.07 in 32 min at the point of maximum electric field, indicating a field enhanced etching rate of 13 nm/min ±2. A control experiment shows a maximum spontaneous etching of rhenium by XeF2 of 0.1 µm ±0.07 in 30 min, indicating a maximum possible spontaneous etching rate of rhenium by XeF2 of 3 nm/min ±2. The spontaneous rate of tungsten by XeF2 reported in the literature is 0.2 nm/min.