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Work function just means the minimum amount of energy required to remove an electron from the surface of a metal. You can also look at it as the threshold energy. Once the energy of the photon exceeds the threshold energy the electron gets removed from the metal surface.
Another thing to note is that there is actually no formula for the work function that we learned. It's a constant that is usually given in a problem (if not, it can be found if you have an electron's excess energy after being removed and the energy that the photon had when it hit the electron)
Work function is basically the energy required to remove an electron from the metal surface. If the energy of the photon is not greater than or equal to the energy to remove an electron (work function), then no electrons will be emitted.
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