Thermal field emission of electrons has been investigated from a tungsten field emitter illuminated by the focused beam of a laser operating at a range of wavelengths in the visible region of the spectrum. The temperature rise of the tip is determined as a function of the displacement of the focused spot of light along the shank, and of its polarization. The experimental data are compared with the results of a first‐principle calculation of the temperature rise, based on an experimental investigation of the intensity distribution within the focused spot of light and of the geometry of the field emitter. The comparison shows that when the laser beam is focused close to the tip the temperature rise is anomalously large; evidence is presented which suggests that the temperature rise of the tip is substantially enhanced by diffraction effects.

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