A versatile Knudsen type effusion cell has been fabricated for growing nanostructures and epitaxial layers of metals and semiconductors. The cell provides excellent vacuum compatibility (10–10 mbar range during operation), efficient water cooling, uniform heating, and moderate input power consumption (100 W at 1000 °C). The thermal properties of the cell have been determined. The performance of the cell has been assessed by x-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) for Mn adlayer growth on Al(111). We find that this Knudsen cell has a stable deposition rate of 0.17 monolayer per minute at 550 °C. From the XPS spectra, we show that the Mn adlayers are completely clean, i.e., devoid of any surface contamination.