A Thin Film Triode Type Carbon Nanotube Field Emission Cathode

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The field electron emission of carbon nanotubes has been heavily studied over the past two decades for various applications, such as in display technologies, microwave amplifiers, and spacecraft propulsion. However, a commercializable lightweight and internally gated electron source has yet to be realized. This work presents the fabrication and testing of a novel internally gated carbon nanotube field electron emitter. Several specific methods are used to prevent electrical shorting of the gate layer, a common failure for internally gated devices. A unique design is explored where the etch pits extend into the silicon substrate and isotropic etching is used to create a lateral buffer zone between the gate and carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are self-aligned to and within 10 microns from the gate, which creates large electric fields at low potential inputs. Initial tests confirm high field emission performance with an anode current density (based on total area of the device) of 293 μA cm−2 and a gate current density of 1.68 mA cm−2 at 250 V.


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Applied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing