, Volume 30, Issue 12, pp 1338-1350
Date: 15 Jul 2009

Carbon Nanotube Bundle Array Cold Cathodes for THz Vacuum Tube Sources

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We present high performance cold cathodes composed of arrays of carbon nanotube bundles that routinely produce > 15 A/cm2 at applied fields of 5 to 8 V/µm without any beam focusing. They have exhibited robust operation in poor vacuums of 10-6 to 10-4 Torr- a typically achievable range inside hermetically sealed microcavities. A new double-SOI process was developed to monolithically integrate a gate and additional beam tailoring electrodes. The ability to design the electrodes for specific requirements makes carbon nanotube field emission sources extremely flexible. The lifetime of these cathodes is found to be affected by two effects: a gradual decay of emission due to anode sputtering, and catastrophic failure because of dislodging of CNT bundles at high fields ( > 10 V/µm).