Vacuum breakdown of carbon-nanotube field emitters on a silicon tip

She, J.C.; Xu, N.S.; Deng, S.Z.; Chen, Jun; Bishop, H.; Huq, S.E.; Wang, L.; Zhong, D.Y.; Wang, E.G.
September 2003
Applied Physics Letters;9/29/2003, Vol. 83 Issue 13, p2671
Academic Journal
Findings are given from the experimental observation of the vacuum breakdown of carbon-nanotube (CNT) field emitters on a Si tip. The CNTs were grown on the apex of a Si microtip by microwave plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. The electrical contact of the CNT-Si junction was shown to be of ohmic type. A fine tungsten microprobe in combination with a scanning electron microscopy (SEM) system was employed for both the field emission and the contact conductivity measurements. This arrangement allows to precisely measure the characteristics of individual CNT and to in situ inspect the morphology of the CNT emitters on Si tips before and after vacuum breakdown events. An upper limit in emission current density of ∼10[sup 3] A/m[sup 2] from the CNT emitters was recorded before a vacuum breakdown event is initiated. Clear evidence was found to show that the vacuum breakdown of the CNTs results in melting of the Si tip. These findings enhance the understanding of the failure mechanism of CNT emitters. It also has important technical implication to the development of ultrabright electron source. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.


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