We report on the application of a novel nondestructive in-vacuum technique for relative work function measurements, employing a grazing incidence electron deflection above a sample with a planar surface. Two deflected electron beam detectors are used as a position sensitive detector to control feedback to the sample potential as the sample work function changes. With feedback the sample potential exactly follows the surface sample-size averaged work function variation, so that the deflected beam trajectory remains stable. We also discuss methods to optimize the initial electron trajectories for this method, so as to minimize unwanted effects such as from uncontrolled external magnetic fields. As the electron beam does not impinge on the surface in this new technique electron induced desorption, ionization, dissociation, and/or decomposition is not induced at the interface. Importantly also the technique allows for free access to the surfaces enabling simultaneous deposition/evaporation and/or application of other surface characterization methods. We demonstrate its application in concurrent measurements of helium atom reflectivity and work function changes taking place during molecular oxygen exposure of a Cu(001) surface. A work function measurement sensitivity and stability is demonstrated at ∼10 mV at a sampling rate of 1 Hz and after application of an ∼7 s smoothing routine. In comparison to the helium atom reflectivity measurements, the work function measurements are more sensitive to the initial O uptake, and less so to the final coverage variations and possible surface reordering at higher O coverages.
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