Field emission efficiency of a carbon nanotube array under parasitic nonlinearities

Anand, S.V., Mahapatra, D.R., Sinha, N., Yeow, J.T.W., Melnik, R.V.N.

 Proceedings of the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE2010, Nov., Vancouver, Canada, Paper: IMECE2010-39558, 10 pages), ASME, Vol. 10, pp. 609 - 618, 2012.


Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) grown on substrates are potential electron sources in field emission applications. Several studies have reported the use of CNTs in field emission devices, including field emission displays, X-ray tube, electron microscopes, cathode-ray lamps, etc. Also, in recent years, conventional cold field emission cathodes have been realized in micro-fabricated arrays for medical X-ray imaging. CNT-based field emission cathode devices have potential applications in a variety of industrial and medical applications, including cancer treatment. Field emission performance of a single isolated CNT is found to be remarkable, but the situation becomes complex when an array of CNTs is used. At the same time, use of arrays of CNTs is practical and economical. Indeed, such arrays on cathode substrates can be grown easily and their collective dynamics can be utilized in a statistical sense such that the average emission intensity is high enough and the collective dynamics lead to longer emission life. The authors in their previous publications had proposed a novel approach to obtain stabilized field emission current from a stacked CNT array of pointed height distribution. A mesoscopic modeling technique was employed, which took into account electro-mechanical forces in the CNTs, as well as transport of conduction electron coupled with electron–phonon induced heat generation from the CNT tips. The reported analysis of pointed arrangements of the array showed that the current density distribution was greatly localized in the middle of the array, the scatter due to electrodynamic force field was minimized, and the temperature transients were much smaller compared to those in an array with random height distribution.

In the present paper we develop a method to compute the emission efficiency of the CNT array in terms of the amount of electrons hitting the anode surface using trajectory calculations. Effects of secondary electron emission and parasitic capacitive nonlinearity on the current-voltage signals are accounted. Field emission efficiency of a stacked CNT array with various pointed height distributions are compared to that of arrays with random and uniform height distributions. Effect of this parasitic nonlinearity on the emission switch-on voltage is estimated by model based simulation and Monte Carlo method.

Keywords: arrays of carbone nanotubes, field emission, X-ray imaging and bio-medical applications, Monte Carlo methods, coupled multiphysics modelling, parasitic nonlinearities, localized current density distributions.