Comparison of low-voltage field emission from TaC and tungsten fiber arrays

Abstract

Field emitter array (FEA) devices were constructed using thin-film fabrication techniques based on in situ eutectic composites containing either TaC or NbC fibers in a NiCr alloy matrix. The emission characteristics of the TaC devices were measured and compared to those of W–ZrO2 FEA’s. Both devices produced the linear Fowler-Nordheim plots common to all field emission devices; however, the array current density of the TaC FEA’s was more than two orders of magnitude lower than that of the W–ZrO2 FEA’s. This was primarily due to the lower fiber density and lower field enhancement of the carbide fiber devices. If it were possible to produce cathode geometries comparable to those of the W–ZrO2 FEA’s, a theoretical analysis indicates that emission performance of the TaC devices would be superior because of the lower work function of TaC. However, post-emission observations indicated that the carbide fiber emitters failed more readily than the tungsten emitters under comparable operating conditions.

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Cochran, J.K., Lee, K.J. & Hill, D.N. Comparison of low-voltage field emission from TaC and tungsten fiber arrays. Journal of Materials Research 3, 67–74 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1557/JMR.1988.0067

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