- 122
- 27
The work function is the energy required to remove an electron from a solid to a point outside, it is a single value. Why is it called a function, instead of a single value? The word function suggests it is a function of some variable x.
I agree the wikipedia article says the value of W depends on the surface of the material and surface condition, but in that statement it does not replace the general word dependence by the rather mathematical term function. It seems odd to me to call something in physics a function if nobody expresses it in a mathematical equation in the form W=f(x), with x a real valued number... is a function of ..
I'm sorry if I appear to lack sympathy while presenting the counterargument.As Baluncore doesnt seem to have much sympathy for your complaint,
I find all of this as a mole hill being turned into a mountain. And I'm speaking on this as someone who spent almost my entire career as a physicist working on photoemission, field emission, and photocathodes.I did some further googling. The term work function seems to have been introduced by Richardson in 1914.(link) He proposed that the emission law should have the mathematical form ##J = A T^2 \mathrm{e}^{- W \over k T}##, where W is the 'work function'. A comment on Richardson's work says: "a common error in the application of equation to thermionic emission is the assumption that the true work function W is a constant."(link) W not being constant would explain why it is called a function, instead of a value.