There are lots of problems related to photoelectric effect, which, for example, use, or have as answer, a work function of less than 1 eV. But when I search on Google, I found out that most metals have work functions greater than 2 eV, let alone reach between 1-2 eV. So is the work function in the problem just made-up, or is there a material with work function less than 1 eV? I also found this but it was released 8 years ago, so I don't know if it's outdated.

  • $\begingroup$ pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acsenergylett.9b01214 Abstract talks of below 1ev. 2019 paper . But it is not a metal. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 13:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe a highly charged metal? Coulomb repulsion of all the extra electrons would reduce the energy needed for an electron to escape. $\endgroup$
    – mmesser314
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


I think most of the materials have work function above 2 eV (most common materials). The poster you shared, I don't think it is outdated. Of course, a lot of materials can be made and synthesized with different work function values. And as I see on the poster, there is no material with work function less than 1 eV. The plot has a minimum of ~ 1.8 eV.

P.S.: in (especially, theoretical) physics problems, of course, any work function can be used.

EDIT: Here, one with less than 1 eV (it is a bit old): https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.1652810?journalCode=apl and pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28681728

1.5 eV also exists. But less than 1 eV work functions, sounds unfeasible. That means that a material should have very weak bound electrons, which can easily be rejected from the material

  • $\begingroup$ I'd suggest to edit your second reference into the main text as well. (Also EDIT: markers are not really common on physics.SE, we can see the edit history of a post, so it doesn't need to be marked in the text IMO). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 16:26

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