Effect of graphitic order on field emission stability of carbon nanotubes

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Department of Physics


We observed current density (J) dependent degradation in field emission current from multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). These degradations are recoverable and can be explained by emission current-induced dislocations along the MWCNTs. MWCNTs grown by thermal chemical vapour deposition (CVD) can emit stable current continuously for at least 1200 min with upper current density limits of ~0.5 mA cm−2. In contrast, this upper limit is<40 >µA cm−2 for nanotubes grown by plasma-enhanced CVD (PECVD), although higher J is possible with relatively shorter stability duration. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy indicate higher graphitic order of the thermal CVD grown MWCNTs as compared to PECVD grown MWCNTs. Our study suggests that graphitic order affects their upper performance limits of long-term emission stability, although the effects from adsorbates cannot be completely ignored. These results indicate that field emission cannot be considered as an ideal quantum tunnelling process. The effect of electron transport along CNTs before electron tunnelling must be considered.

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©2007 IOP Publishing Ltd. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1088/0957-4484/18/3/035206

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