Surface Treatment on Silicon Field-Emission Cathodes


Arrays and single-tip p-type silicon micro-emitters have been formed using a subtractive tip fabrication technique. Following fabrication, several different surface treatments have been attempted for comparison. We utilized ion and electron bombardment at elevated pressures (with interrupted pumping), and also hydrogen seasoning during field emission operation. The objectives of these treatments include stabilization of the emission, lowering the effective workfunction, and reducing low-frequency noise. The tips were evaluated using I-V measurements in the diode configuration. A flat Si anode, spaced nominally 6 μm and 150 μm from the cathode, was used. For the purpose of treatment, the field emission characteristics are measured in a high vacuum chamber at a pressure range between 10−5 and 10−8 Torr. The results suggest that the emitters benefit from seasoning or conditioning, for optimal performance, low noise, minimum work function and maximum reproducibility and reliability over the lifetime of the cathode.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    J. T. Trujillo and C. E. Hunt, low-voltage silicon gated field-emission cathodes for vacuum microelectronics and e-Ream applications, JVST B, 11 (2), 1993, pp. 454–458

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    R. B. Marcus, T. S. Ravi, and T. Gmitter, K. Chin, D. Liu, W. J. Orvis and D. R. Ciarlo, C. E. Hunt and J. Trujillo, Formation of Silicon tips with <1nm radius, Appl.Phys. Lett. 56(3), 15 January 1990, pp 236–238.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    R. Meyer, presented at the 9th IVMC Conference, Kyongju, Korea, 1997 (unpublished).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Advanced Porous Getters. St 172 Series. Technical publication G870530. SAES getters S.p.a. Milano, 1987.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Hajra.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hajra, M., Chubun, N.N., Chakhovskoi, A.G. et al. Surface Treatment on Silicon Field-Emission Cathodes. MRS Online Proceedings Library 621, 141 (2000).

Download citation