Enhanced electron field emission from carbon nanotube matrices

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Department of Physics


Field emission from as-grown carbon nanotube (CNTs) films often suffered from high threshold electric field, and low emission site density due to screening effects. These problems can be resolved by patterned growth of CNTs on lithographically prepared catalyst films. However, these approaches are expensive and not applicable for future emitting devices with large display areas. Here we show that as-grown CNTs films can have low emission threshold field and high emission density without using any lithography processes. We have reduced screening effects and work function of as-grown CNTs films and created the novel CNT matrices by addition of vapor- and/or liquid- phase deposition. Furthermore, these CNT matrices can continuous emit electrons for 40 hours without significant degradation. The fabrication of our CNT matrices is described as follows. First, CNT films were grown by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. These vertically-aligned multiwalled carbon nanotubes (VA-MWCNTs) are having typical length and diameter of 4 microns and 40 nm, respectively. Spacing between these CNTs is ~80 nm in average, leading to poor emission properties due to the screening effect. These as-grown samples were then subjected to the deposition of strontium titanate (SrTiO3) by pulsed-laser deposition to reduce both the work function and screening effect of CNTs. The emission properties of these coated samples can be further improved by fully filled the spaces between VA-MWCNTs by poly-methyl metha acrylate (PMMA). The field emission threshold electric field was decreased from 4.22 V/μm for as-grown VA-MWCNTs to 1.7 V/μm for SrTiO3 coated VA-MWCNTs. The addition filling with PMMA and mechanical polishing can further reduce the threshold to 0.78V/μm for the so called PMMA-STO-CNT matrices. Long term emission stability and emission site density were also enhanced.

Publisher's Statement

© Materials Research Society 2011. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.546

Publication Title

MRS Proceedings