Characterization of Carbon Nanotube Based Thin Film Field Emitter
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In recent years, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have emerged as one of the best field emitters for a variety of technological applications. The field emitting cathodes have several advantages over the conventional thermionic cathodes: (i) current density from field emission would be orders of magnitude greater than in the thermionic case, (ii) a cold cathode would minimize the need for cooling, and (iii) a field emitting cathode can be miniaturized. In spite of good performance of such cathodes, the procedure to estimate the device current is not straight forward and the required insight towards design optimization is not well understood. In addition, the current in CNT-based thin film devices shows fluctuation. Such fluctuation in field emission current is not desirable for many biomedical applications such as x-ray devices. The CNTs in a thin film undergo complex dynamics during field emission, which includes processes such as (i) evolution, (ii) electromechanical interaction, (iii) thermoelectric heating, (iv) ballistic transport, and (v) electron gas flow. These processes are coupled and nonlinear. Therefore, they must be analyzed accurately from the stability and long-term performance point of view. In this research, we develop detailed physics-based models of CNTs considering the aspects mentioned above. The models are integrated in a systematic manner to calculate the device current by using the Fowler-Nordheim equation. Using the models, we were able to capture the fluctuations in the field emission current, which have been observed in actual experiments. A detailed analysis of the results reveals the deflected shapes of the CNTs in an ensemble and the extent to which the initial state of geometry and orientation angles affect the device current. In addtion, investigations on the influence of defects and impurities in CNTs on their field emission properties have been carried out. By inclusion of defects and impurities, the field emission properties of CNTs can be tailored for specific device applications in future. For stable performance of CNT-based field emission devices, such as x-ray generators, design optimization studies have been presented. It has been found that the proposed design minimizes transience in field emission current. In this thesis, it has been demonstrated that phonon-assisted control of field emission current in CNT based thin film is possible. Finally, experimental studies pertaining to crosstalk phenomenon in a multi-pixel CNT array are presented.