Field Emission from a New Form of Thin Film Amorphous Carbon Having Nanoparticle Inclusions and Carbon Nanotubes

Gehan A.J. Amaratunga, Mark Baxendale, Nalin Rupesinghe, Ioannis Alexandrou, Manish Chhowalla, Tim Butler, Amith Munindradasa, Chris J. Kiley, Li Zhang, Tadashi Sakai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Field emission results from a new form of carbon thin film are reported. The films contain carbon nanoparticles (nanotubes, "onions" and "eggs") within an amorphous carbon matrix and are deposited using a carbon arc with a localized high-pressure gas region of He of N2. The films formed in an N2 environment have a nitrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:N) matrix and show clear Fowler-Nordheim-type metallic field emission characteristics. The field emission is very similar to that obtained from pure, randomly oriented multi-wall and single-wall nanotube films. It is proposed that the new a-C:N/nanoparticle films emit electrons through conducting channels formed in the film, subsurface field emission into the a-C:N matrix and hot electron surmounting of the surface potential barrier between the a-C:N and vacuum. Field enhancement factors of over 1000 are calculated for the thin film emitters when the nanoparticle work function is taken as 5 eV. This class of a-C:N/ nanoparticle film has the potential to be a thin film equivalent to carbon nanotubes in terms of field emission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-51
Number of pages21
JournalNew Diamond and Frontier Carbon Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1999


  • Field emission
  • Nanotubes
  • a-C
  • a-C:N

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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