A Carbon Nanotube Field-Emission Electron Source

Science  17 Nov 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5239, pp. 1179-1180
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5239.1179


A high-intensity electron gun based on field emission from a film of aligned carbon nanotubes has been made. The gun consists of a nanotube film with a 1-millimeter-diameter grid about 20 micrometers above it. Field-emission current densities of about 0.1 milliampere per square centimeter were observed for applied voltages as low as 200 volts, and current densities greater than 100 milliamperes per square centimeter have been realized at 700 volts. The gun is air-stable, easy and inexpensive to fabricate, and functions stably and reliably for long times (short-term fluctuations are on the order of 10 percent). The entire gun is only about 0.2 millimeter thick and can be produced with virtually no restrictions on its area, from less than 1 square millimeter to hundreds of square centimeters, making it suitable for flat panel display applications.

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