The construction and calibration of a high vacuum system for thin film growth and in situ quantum efficiency (QE) measurement are described. Surface cleaning by in situ argon ion sputtering and annealing is supported. The QE measurement is based on an external 265 nm LED and in situ positively biased collector grid. The system is applied to two metallic and two semiconducting photocathodes: polycrystalline silver and copper, and single crystal InP and InSb. Surface cleaning protocols are shown to have a dramatic effect on the QE for all of these materials. The maximum QE values achieved for clean InSb and InP are around 8 × 10−5, for Cu 9 × 10−5 and for Ag 2 × 10−4.

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