We report on the fabrication of field emission microcathodes which use carbon nanotubes as the field emission source. The devices incorporated an integrated gate electrode in order to achieve truly low-voltage field emission. A single-mask, self-aligned technique was used to pattern the gate, insulator and catalyst for nanotube growth. Vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes were then grown inside the gated structure by plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition. Our self-aligned fabrication process ensured that the nanotubes were always centred with respect to the gate apertures (2 μm diameter) over the entire device. In order to obtain reproducible emission characteristics and to avoid degradation of the device, it was necessary to operate the gate in a pulsed voltage mode with a low duty cycle. The field emission device exhibited an initial turn-on voltage of 9 V. After the first measurements, the turn-on voltage shifted to 15 V, and a peak current density of 0.6 mA cm-2 at 40 V was achieved, using a duty cycle of 0.5%.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering