# Dr Richard Forbes

## Academic and research departments

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, Advanced Technology Institute.## Publications

This note proposes that the theories of field evaporation and field desorption, as used in atom-probe microscopy and related atomic-level contexts, should be consistently formulated in terms of a set of "seven-dimensional (7-D)" formulae and equations that involve the physical quantity "amount of substance", but make use of an atomiclevel constant effectively equal to "one atom" (or, more generally, "one entity"). It is argued that the term "count" should be introduced as an alternative name (more suited to atomic-level contexts) for the quantity "amount of substance". For field evaporation/desorption theories, relevant definitions and formulae are proposed, and compared with the "six-dimensional" system (based on the dimensionless quantity "number of atoms/entities") sometimes used in the literature. Advantages of using a 7-D system are noted. It is argued that there is also an increasing need for a comprehensive system of official nomenclature for atomic-level constants and units, for all three of the extensive quantities "mass", "electric charge" and "amount of substance". It is also argued that, in the longer term, considerations of the kind being proposed here for field evaporation/desorption theories might usefully be applied more generally in atomic-level rate theory.

We test the consistency with which Simmons' model can predict the local current density obtained for at metal-vacuum-metal junctions. The image potential energy used in Simmons' original papers had a missing factor of 1=2. Besides this technical issue, Simmons' model relies on a mean-barrier approximation for electron transmission through the potential-energy barrier between the metals. In order to test Simmons' expression for the local current density when the correct image potential energy is included, we compare the results of this expression with those provided by a transfer-matrix technique. This technique is known to provide numerically exact solutions of Schrodinger's equation for this barrier model. We also consider the current densities provided by a numerical integration of the transmission probability obtained with the WKB approximation and Simmons' mean-barrier approximation. The comparison between these different models shows that Simmons' expression for the local current density actually provides results that are in good agreement with those provided by the transfer-matrix technique, for a range of conditions of practical interest. We show that Simmons' model provides good results in the linear and weld-emission regimes of current density versus voltage plots. It loses its applicability when the top of the potential-energy barrier drops below the Fermi level of the emitting metal.

—For explaining electrical breakdown, field electron emission (FE) is a mechanism of interest. In the period 2006 to 2010 there were significant developments in basic FE theory, but these have not yet fully entered general thinking in technological FE areas, which are often still based on 1960s thinking or (in some contexts 1920s thinking) about FE theory. This paper outlines the history of FE theory and provides an overview of modern developments and of some related topics, in so far as these affect the interpretation of experiments and the explanation of physical phenomena. The paper concentrates on principles, with references given where details can be found. Some suggestions are made about moving to the use of "21st-Century" FE theory. In addition, an error in Feynman's treatment of the electrostatics of pointed conductors is displayed, and it is found that Zener tunneling is implausible as a primary cause of vacuum breakdown from a CuO overlayer.

This paper focuses on one small but significant part of a long-term project that aims to improve the interpretation of measured field electron emission (FE) current-voltage [I_m(V_m)] data, and (later) the formulation of FE theory. A new form of FE I_m(V_m) data-analysis plot - the so-called "Murphy-Good (MG) plot" - has recently been introduced, within the general framework of the prevailing "smooth planar metal-like emitter" methodology. This new plot form, and the reasons for its introduction, are discussed. It is shown that the MG plot can perform all the functions that the traditional (90-year old) Fowler-Nordheim plot does, but in addition yields relatively precise results for the characterization parameter formal emission area. It can be argued that, certainly in scientific contexts, the use of MG plots could usefully replace the use of FN plots.

This note proposes that the theories of field evaporation and field desorption, as used in atom-probe microscopy and related atomic-level contexts, should be consistently formulated in terms of a set of "seven-dimensional (7-D)" formulae and equations that involve the physical quantity "amount of substance", but make use of an atomiclevel constant effectively equal to "one atom" (or, more generally, "one entity"). It is argued that the term "count" should be introduced as an alternative name (more suited to atomic-level contexts) for the quantity "amount of substance". For field evaporation/desorption theories, relevant definitions and formulae are proposed, and compared with the "six-dimensional" system (based on the dimensionless quantity "number of atoms/entities") sometimes used in the literature. Advantages of using a 7-D system are noted. It is argued that there is also an increasing need for a comprehensive system of official nomenclature for atomic-level constants and units, for all three of the extensive quantities "mass", "electric charge" and "amount of substance". It is also argued that, in the longer term, considerations of the kind being proposed here for field evaporation/desorption theories might usefully be applied more generally in atomic-level rate theory.

In field electron emission (FE) studies, it is important to check and analyse the quality and validity of experimental current-voltage data, which is usually plotted in one of a small number of standard forms. These include the so-called Fowler-Nordheim (FN), Millikan- Lauritsen (ML) and Murphy-Good (MG) plots. The Field Emission Orthodoxy Test is a simple quantitative test that aims to check for the reasonableness of the values of the parameter "scaled field" that can be extracted from these plots. This is done in order to establish whether characterization parameters extracted from the plot will be reliable or, alternative, likely to be spurious. This paper summarises the theory behind the orthodoxy test, for each of the plot forms, and confirms that it is easy to apply it to the newly developed MG plot. A simple, new, accessible web application has been developed that extracts scaled-field values from any of these three plot forms, and tests for lack of field emission orthodoxy.

Measured field electron emission (FE) current-voltage Im(Vm) data are traditionally analysed via Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plots, as ln{Im/(Vm)**2} vs 1/Vm. These have been used since 1929, because in 1928 FN predicted they would be linear. In the 1950s, a mistake in FN's thinking was found. Corrected theory by Murphy and Good (MG) made theoretical FN plots slightly curved. This causes difficulties when attempting to extract precise values of emission characterization parameters from straight lines fitted to experimental FN plots. Improved mathematical understanding, from 2006 onwards, has now enabled a new FE data-plot form, the "Murphy-Good plot". This plots ln{Im/(Vm)**(2-({____eta}/6)} vs 1/Vm, where {____eta} depends only on local work function. Modern ("21st century") MG theory predicts that a theoretical MG plot should be "almost exactly" straight. This makes precise extraction of well-defined characterization parameters from ideal I_m(V_m) data much easier. This article gives the theory needed to extract characterization parameters from MG plots, setting it within the framework of wider difficulties in interpreting FE Im(Vm) data (among them, use of the "planar emission approximation"). Careful use of MG plots could also help remedy other problems in FE technological literature. It is argued MG plots should now supersede FN plots.

This article proposes that we should think differently about predicting and interpreting measured field electron emission (FE) current-voltage [I_m(V_m)] characteristics. It is commonly assumed that I_m(V_m) data interpretation is a problem in emission physics and related electrostatics. Many experimentalists then apply the Fowler-Nordheim plot methodology, developed in 1929. However, with modern emitting materials, this 90-year-old interpretation methodology often fails (maybe in nearly 50% of cases) and yields spurious values for characterization parameters, particularly field enhancement factors. This has generated an unreliable literature. Hence, validity checks on experimental I_m(V_m) data are nearly always needed before use. A new check, supplementing existing checks, is described. Twelve different "system complications" that, acting singly or in combinations, can cause validity-check failure are identified. A top-level path forward from this unsatisfactory situation is proposed. The term "field electron emission system (FE system) " is defined to include all aspects of an experimental system that affect the measured I_m(V_m) characteristics. The analysis of FE systems should now be regarded as a specialized form of electronic/electrical engineering, provisionally called "FE Systems Engineering. " In this approach, the I_m(V_m) relationship is split as follows: (a) the current is expressed as a function I_m(F_C) of the local surface-field magnitude F_C at some defined emitter surface location "C", and (b) the relationship between F_C and measured voltage V_m is expressed and determined separately. Determining I_m(F_C) is mostly a problem in emission physics. Determining the relationship F_C(V_m) depends on system electrostatics and (for systems failing a validity check) on the other aspects of FE Systems Engineering, in particular, electrical-circuit modeling. The scope of FE Systems Engineering and some related research implications and problems are outlined.

When solving the Laplace equation numerically via computer simulation, in order to determine the field values at the surface of a shape model that represents a field emitter, it is necessary to define a simulation box and, within this, a simulation domain. This domain must not be so small that the box boundaries have an undesirable influence on the predicted field values. A recent paper discussed the situation of cylindrically symmetric emitter models that stand on one of a pair of well-separated parallel plates. This geometry can be simulated by using two-dimensional domains. For a cylindrical simulation box, formulas have previously been presented that define the minimum domain dimensions (MDD) (height and radius) needed to evaluate the apex value of the field enhancement factor for this type of model, with an error-magnitude never larger than a " tolerance " ε tol. This MDD criterion helps to avoid inadvertent errors and oversized domains. The present article discusses (in greater depth than previously) a significant improvement in the MDD method; this improvement has been called the MDD extrapolation technique (MDDET). By carrying out two simulations with relatively small MDD values, it is possible to achieve a level of precision comparable with the results of carrying out a single simulation using a much larger simulation domain. For some simulations, this could result in significant savings of memory requirements and computing time. Following a brief restatement of the original MDD method, the MDDET method is illustrated by applying it to the hemiellipsoid-on-plane and hemisphere-on-cylindrical-post emitter shape models.

These comments aim to correct some apparent weaknesses in the theory of field electron emission given in a recent paper about nanoscale vacuum channel transistors, and to improve the presentation of this theory. In particular, it is argued that a “simplified” formula stated in the paper should not be used, because this formula is known to under-predict emission current densities by a large factor (typically around 300 for an emitting surface with local work function 4.5 eV). Thus, the “simplified” formula may significantly under-predict the practical performance of a nanoscale vacuum channel transistor.

This book gives an overview of modern cathodes and electron emitters for vacuum tubes and vacuum electron devices in general. It covers the latest developments in field emission theory as well as new methods towards improving thermionic and cold cathodes. It addresses thermionic cathodes, such as oxide cathodes, impregnated and scandate cathodes, as well as photocathodes and field emitters – the latter comprising carbon nanotubes, graphene and Spindt-type emitter arrays. Despite the rise and fall of the once dominant types of vacuum tubes, such as radio valves and cathode ray tubes, cathodes are continually being improved upon as new applications with increased demands arise, for example in electron beam lithography, high-power and high-frequency microwave tubes, terahertz imaging and electron sources for accelerators. Written by 17 experts in the field, the book presents the latest developments in cathodes needed for these applications, discussing the state of the art and addressing future trends.

For field electron emission (FE), an empirical equation for measured current I m as a function of measured voltage V m has the form I m = CV m k exp[– B / V m ], where B is a constant and C and k are constants or vary weakly with V m . Values for k can be extracted (i) from simulations based on some specific FE theory, and in principle (ii) from current–voltage measurements of sufficiently high quality. This paper shows that a comparison of theoretically derived and experimentally derived k- values could provide a sensitive and useful tool for comparing FE theory and experiment, and for choosing between alternative theories. Existing methods of extracting k -values from experimental or simulated current–voltage data are discussed, including a modernized ‘least residual’ method, and existing knowledge concerning k -values is summarized. Exploratory simulations are reported. Where an analytical result for k is independently known, this value is reliably extracted. More generally, extracted k -values are sensitive to details of the emission theory used, but also depend on assumed emitter shape; these two influences will need to be disentangled by future research, and a range of emitter shapes will need examination. Other procedural conclusions are reported. Some scientific issues that this new tool may eventually be able to help investigate are indicated.

A major challenge for Atom Probe Tomography (APT) quantification is the inability to decouple ions which possess the same mass-charge (m/n) ratio but a different mass. For example, 75 As + and 75 As2 2+ at ~75 Da or 14 N + and 28 Si 2+ at ~14 Da, cannot be differentiated without the additional knowledge of their kinetic energy or a significant improvement of the mass resolving power. Such mass peak overlaps lead to ambiguities in peak assignment, resulting in compositional uncertainty and an incorrect labelling of the atoms in a reconstructed volume. In the absence of a practical technology for measuring the kinetic energy of the field-evaporated ions, we propose and then explore the applicability of a post-experimental analytical approach to resolve this problem based on the fundamental process that governs the production of multiply charged molecular ions/clusters in APT, i.e., Post-Field Ionization (PFI). The ability to predict the PFI behaviour of molecular ions as a function of operating conditions could offer the first step towards resolving peak overlap and minimizing compositional uncertainty. We explore this possibility by comparing the field dependence of the charge-state-ratio for Si clusters (Si2, Si3 and Si4) with theoretical predictions using the widely accepted Kingham PFI theory. We then discuss the model parameters that may affect the quality of the fit and the possible ways in which the PFI of molecular ions in APT can be better understood. Finally, we test the transferability of the proposed approach to different material systems and outline ways forward for achieving more reliable results.

This Comment suggests that technological field electron emission (FE) papers, such as the paper under discussion [P. Serbun et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 91, 083906 (2020)], should use FE theory based on the 1956 work of Murphy and Good (MG), rather than a simplified version of FE theory based on the original 1928 work of Fowler and Nordheim (FN). The use of the 1928 theory is common practice in the technological FE literature, but the MG treatment is known to be better physics than the FN treatment, which contains identifiable errors. The MG treatment predicts significantly higher emission current densities and currents for emitters than does the FN treatment. From the viewpoint of the research and development of electron sources, it is counterproductive (and unhelpful for non-experts) for the technological FE literature to use theory that undervalues the performance of field electron emitters.

In field electron emission (FE) studies, interpretation of measured current–voltage characteristics and extraction of emitter characterization parameters are usually carried out within the framework of “smooth planar metal-like emitter (SPME) methodology”, using a data-analysis plot. This methodology was originally introduced in the 1920s. Three main data-plot types now exist: Millikan–Lauritsen (ML) plots, Fowler–Nordheim (FN) plots, and Murphy–Good (MG) plots. ML plots were commonly used in early FE studies, but most modern analysis uses FN plots. MG plots are a recent introduction. Theoretically, it is now known that ML and FN plots are predicted to be slightly curved in SPME methodology, but a Murphy–Good plot will be very nearly straight. Hence (because 1956 Murphy–Good emission theory is “better physics” than 1928 Fowler–Nordheim emission theory as corrected in 1929), expectation is that parameter extraction using a MG plot will be more precise than extraction using either ML plots or FN plots. In technological FE studies, current–voltage characteristics are often converted into other forms. Thus, measured voltage may be converted to (apparent) macroscopic field, and/or current values may be converted to macroscopic current densities. Thus, four data-input forms can be found in the context of analysing FE current–voltage results. It is also the case that over-simplified models of measurement-system behaviour are very widely assumed, and the question of whether simple use of a data-analysis plot is a valid data-interpretation procedure for the particular system under investigation has often been neglected. Past published studies on field emitter materials development appear to contain a high incidence of spurious values for the emitter characterization parameter “characteristic field enhancement factor”. A procedure (the so-called “Orthodoxy Test”) was described in 2013 that allows a validity check on measurement-system behaviour, and found that around 40% of a small sample of results tested were spuriously high, but has had limited uptake so far. To assist with FE current–voltage data interpretation and validity checks, a simple user-friendly webtool has been under design by the lead author. The webtool needs as user input some system specification data and some “range-limits” data from any of the three forms of data-analysis plot, using any of the four data-input variations. The webtool then applies the Orthodoxy Test, and—if the Test is passed—calculates values of relevant emitter characterization parameters. The present study reports the following: (1) systematic tests of the webtool functionality, using simulated input data prepared using Extended Murphy–Good field electron emission theory; and (2) systematic comparisons of the three different data-plot types, again using simulated input data, in respect of the accuracy with which extracted characterization parameter values match the simulation input values. The paper is introduced by a thorough summary review of the theory on which modern SPME-based current–voltage data-analysis procedures are based. The need in principle to move on (in due course) to data-analysis procedures based on curved-emitter emission theory is noted. An important result is to confirm (by simulations) that, particularly in respect of the extraction of formal emission areas, the performance of the Murphy–Good plot is noticeably better than the performances of Fowler–Nordheim and Millikan–Lauritsen plots. This result is important for field electron emission science because it is now known that differences as between different theories of field electron emission often affect the formal emission area.

This paper provides a demonstration-of-concept of a new methodology for comparing field electron emission (FE) theory and experiment. It uses the parameter κ in the mathematical equation Im = CVmκ exp[–B/Vm] (where B and C are weakly varying or constants) that is taken to describe how measured current Im depends on measured voltage Vm for electronically ideal FE systems (i.e. systems that (i) have constant configuration during voltage application and (ii) have Im(Vm) given by the emission physics alone). Experimental parameter values (κm) are used to compare two alternative FE theories, for which allowable (but different) κ ranges have been established. At present, contributions to the ‘total theoretical κ’ made by voltage dependence of notional emission area are not well known: simulations reported here provide data about four commonly investigated emitter shapes. The methodology is then applied to compare 1928/1929 Fowler–Nordheim (FN) FE theory and 1956 Murphy–Good (MG) FE theory. It is theoretically certain that the 1956 theory is ‘better physics’ than the 1928/1929 theory. As in previous attempts to reach known correct theoretical conclusions by experimentally based argument, the new methodology tends to favour MG FE theory, but is formally indecisive at this stage. Further progress needs better methods of establishing error limits and of measuring κm.

This review of the quantitative electrostatics of ﬁeld emitters, covering analytical, numerical and "ﬁtted formula" approaches, is thought to be the ﬁrst of its kind in the 100 years of the subject. The review relates chieﬂy to situations where emitters operate in an electronically ideal manner, and zero-current electrostatics is applicable. Terminology is carefully described and is "polarity independent", so the review applies to both ﬁeld electron and ﬁeld ion emitters. It also applies more generally to charged, pointed electron-conductors—which exhibit the "electrostatic lightning-rod eﬀect", but are poorly discussed in general electricity and magnetism literature. Modern electron-conductor electrostatics is an application of the chemical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of electrons. In related theory, the primary role of classical electrostatic potentials (rather than ﬁelds) becomes apparent. Space and time limitations have meant the review cannot be comprehensive in both detail and scope. Rather, it focuses chieﬂy on the electrostatics of two common basic emitter forms: the needle-shaped emitters used in traditional projection technologies; and the post-shaped emitters often used in modelling large-area multi-emitter electron sources. In the post-on-plane context, we consider in detail both the electrostatics of the single post and the interaction between two identical posts that occurs as a result of electrostatic depolarization (often called "screening" or "shielding"). Core to the review are discussions of the "minimum domain dimensions" method for implementing eﬀective ﬁnite-element-method electrostatic simulations, and of the variant that leads to very precise estimates of dimensionless ﬁeld enhancement factors (error typically less than 0.001 % in simple situations where analytical comparisons exist). Brief outline discussions, and some core references, are given for each of many "related considerations" relevant to the electrostatic situations, methods and results described. Many areas of ﬁeld emitter electrostatics are suggested where further research and/or separate mini-reviews would probably be useful.

Experimental Fowler–Nordheim plots taken from orthodoxly behaving carbon nanotube (CNT) field electron emitters are known to be linear. This shows that, for such emitters, there exists a characteristic field enhancement factor (FEF) that is constant for a range of applied voltages and applied macroscopic fields FM. A constant FEF of this kind can be evaluated for classical CNT emitter models by finite-element and other methods, but (apparently contrary to experiment) several past quantum-mechanical (QM) CNT calculations find FEF values that vary with FM. A common feature of most such calculations is that they focus only on deriving the CNT real-charge distributions. Here we report on calculations that use first-principles electronic structure calculations to derive real-charge distributions and then use these to generate the related induced-charge distributions and related fields and FEFs. We have analyzed three carbon nanostructures involving CNT-like nanoprotrusions of various lengths, and have also simulated geometrically equivalent classical emitter models, using finite-element methods. We find that when the first-principles local induced FEFs (LIFEFs) are used, the resulting values are effectively independent of macroscopic field and behave in the same qualitative manner as the classical FEF values. Further, there is fair to good quantitative agreement between a characteristic FEF determined classically and the equivalent characteristic LIFEF generated via first-principles approaches. This is a significant step forward in linking classical and QM theories of CNT electrostatics. It also shows clearly that, for ideal CNTs, the known experimental constancy of the FEF value for a range of macroscopic fields can also be found in appropriately developed QM theory.

This paper derives an approximate formula for the field enhancement factor for a tall closely-packed array of identical conducting posts. It confirms a formula derived from the work of Zhbanov et al. [J. Appl. Phys. 110, 114311 (2011)], but displays the principles underlying collective screening more clearly. A formula for the area efficiency of emission (α ) for this array is also derived. Since α ≪1, it follows that a macroscopic pre-exponential correction factor (λ ) must be included in the formula for the macroscopic ("LAFE-average") emission current density (J ) for a large-area field emitter (LAFE). Omission of λ may cause great theoretical over-prediction of the value of J . © 2012 IEEE.

This conference paper reports the interim conclusions of a re-examination of the theory of the resolving power of the field electron and field ion microscopes. It argues that existing theory contains multiple errors and needs to be completely replaced. Progress made is reported. The nature of problems remaining to be solved is briefly discussed. © 2012 IEEE.

These chapters define and explain numerous formulae that appear in the theory of field electron and ion emission and closely related topics, and give and (where relevant) discuss the best current values for numerous constants that appear in these formulae

This poster is part of a continuing attempt to make field emission theory more transparent. When interpreting current-voltage characteristics related to cold field electron emission (CFE), it is widely assumed that these are controlled and dominated by the behaviour of the tunneling barrier at the emitter/vacuum interface. The transmission probability D for this barrier can be written D ≈ P exp[-G], where P is a transmission pre-factor and G is the JWKB exponent or "barrier strength". The influence of theoretical effects on the barrier form and on D can be illustrated by plotting (-G) and/or lnD as functions of reciprocal field or voltage. This is a specialized form of Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plot. Its usefulness as a pedagogical tool has perhaps been under-appreciated; it may also prove useful for discussing the issue of what causes curvature in FN plots. © 2012 IEEE.

Recent analyses of the apex field enhancement factor (FEF) for many forms of field emitter have revealed that the depolarization effect is more persistent with respect to the separation between the emitters than originally assumed. It has been shown that, at sufficiently large separations, the fractional reduction of the FEF decays with the inverse cube power of separation, rather than exponentially. The behavior of the fractional reduction of the FEF encompassing both the range of technological interest (c being the separation and h is the height of the emitters) and large separations () has not been predicted by the existing formulas in field emission literature, for post-like emitters of any shape. In this work, we use first principles to derive a simple two-parameter formula for fractional reduction that can be useful for experimentalists for modeling and interpreting the FEFs for small clusters of emitters or arrays at separations of interest. For the structures tested, the agreement between numerical and analytical data is ~1%.

As part of a continuing attempt to build a more coherent scientific structure for the theory of field-assisted electron emission, and in particular for the interpretation of measured current-voltage data, this paper provides an overview of recent progress in what is proving to be a very messy and complicated task. © 2012 IEEE.

This paper aims to improve qualitative understanding of electrostatic influences on apex field enhancement factors (AFEFs) for small field emitter arrays/clusters. Using the “floating sphere at emitter-plate potential” (FSEPP) model, it re-examines the electrostatics and mathematics of three simple systems of identical post-like emitters. For the isolated emitter, various approaches are noted. An adequate approximation is to consider only the effects of sphere charges and (for significantly separated emitters) image charges. For the 2-emitter system, formulas are found for charge-transfer (“charge-blunting”) effects and neighbor-field effects, for widely spaced and for “sufficiently closely spaced” emitters. Mutual charge-blunting is always the dominant effect, with a related (negative) fractional AFEF-change δ two. For sufficiently small emitter spacing c, |δ two| varies approximately as 1/c; for large spacing, |δ two| decreases as 1/c 3. In a 3-emitter equispaced linear array, differential charge-blunting and differential neighbor-field effects occur, but differential charge-blunting effects are dominant, and cause the “exposed” outer emitters to have higher AFEF (γ 0) than the central emitter (γ 1). Formulas are found for the exposure ratio Ξ = γ 0/γ 1, for large and for sufficiently small separations. The FSEPP model for an isolated emitter has accuracy around 30%. Line-charge models (LCMs) are an alternative, but an apparent difficulty with recent LCM implementations is identified. Better descriptions of array electrostatics may involve developing good fitting equations for AFEFs derived from accurate numerical solution of Laplace's equation, perhaps with equation form(s) guided qualitatively by FSEPP-model results. In existing fitting formulas, the AFEF-reduction decreases exponentially as c increases, which is different from the FSEPP-model formulas. This discrepancy needs to be investigated, using systematic Laplace-based simulations and appropriate results analysis. FSEPP models might provide a useful provisional guide to the qualitative behaviour of small field emitter clusters larger than those investigated here.

In many field electron emission experiments on single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), the SWCNT stands on one of two well-separated parallel plane plates, with a macroscopic field FM applied between them. For any given location “L” on the SWCNT surface, a field enhancement factor (FEF) is defined as FL/FM, where FL is a local field defined at “L”. The best emission measurements from small-radii capped SWCNTs exhibit characteristic FEFs that are constant (i.e., independent of FM). This paper discusses how to retrieve this result in quantum-mechanical (as opposed to classical electrostatic) calculations. Density functional theory (DFT) is used to analyze the properties of two short, floating SWCNTs, capped at both ends, namely, a (6,6) and a (10,0) structure. Both have effectively the same height (∼5.46 nm) and radius (∼0.42 nm). It is found that apex values of local induced FEF are similar for the two SWCNTs, are independent of FM, and are similar to FEF values found from classical conductor models. It is suggested that these induced-FEF values are related to the SWCNT longitudinal system polarizabilities, which are presumed similar. The DFT calculations also generate “real”, as opposed to “induced”, potential-energy (PE) barriers for the two SWCNTs, for FM values from 3 V/μm to 2 V/nm. PE profiles along the SWCNT axis and along a parallel “observation line” through one of the topmost atoms are similar. At low macroscopic fields, the details of barrier shape differ for the two SWCNT types. Even for FM = 0, there are distinct PE structures present at the emitter apex (different for the two SWCNTs); this suggests the presence of structure-specific chemically induced charge transfers and related patch-field distributions.

This paper addresses issues in the theory of field-induced electron emission. First, it summarises our present understanding of the theory of Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plots, and shows the relationship between a recent precise (in standard FN theory) approach to the interpretation of the FN-plot intercept and older approximate approaches. Second, it comments on the interpretation of FN plots taken from semiconductor field emitters. Third, it summarises the main points of a recent hypothesis about the mechanism of field-induced emission from carbon- based films and other electrically nanostructured heterogeneous (ENH) materials. Weaknesses in previous hypotheses are noted. It is hypothesised that thin films of all ENH materials, when deposited on a conducting substrate, will emit electrons in appropriate circumstances. Such films emit electrons at low macroscopic fields because they contain conducting nanostructure inside them: This structure generates sufficient geometrical field enhancement near the film/vacuum interface that more-or-less normal Fowler-Nordheim emission can occur. In connection with experiments on amorphous carbon films carried out by a group in Fribourg, it is shown that nanostructure of the size measured by scanning probe techniques should be able to generate field enhancement of the size measured in field electron spectroscopy experiments. This result provides a quantitative corroboration of other work suggesting that emission from amorphous carbon films is primarily clue to geometrical field enhancement by nanostructures inside the film. Some counter-arguments to the internal-field-enhancement hypothesis are considered and disposed of. Some advantages of ENH materials as broad-area field emission electron sources are noted; these include control of material design.

With a large-area field electron emitter, when an individual post-like emitter is sufficiently resistive, and current through it is sufficiently large, then voltage loss occurs along it. This letter provides a simple analytical and conceptual demonstration that this voltage loss is directly and inextricably linked to a reduction in the field enhancement factor (FEF) at the post apex. A formula relating apex-FEF reduction to this voltage loss was obtained in the paper by Minoux et al. [Nano Lett. 5, 2135 (2005)] by fitting to numerical results from a Laplace solver. This letter derives the same formula analytically, by using a “floating sphere” model. The analytical proof brings out the underlying physics more clearly and shows that the effect is a general phenomenon, related to reduction in the magnitude of the surface charge in the most protruding parts of an emitter. Voltage-dependent FEF-reduction is one cause of “saturation” in Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plots. Another is a voltage-divider effect, due to measurement-circuit resistance. An integrated theory of both effects is presented. Both together, or either by itself, can cause saturation. Experimentally, if saturation occurs but voltage loss is small (

Field electron emission (FE) has relevance in many technological contexts. However, many technological papers use a physically defective elementary FE equation for local emission current density (LECD). This equation takes the tunneling barrier as exactly triangular, as in the original FE theory of 90 years ago. More than 60 years ago, it was shown that the Schottky-Nordheim (SN) barrier, which includes an image-potential-energy term (that models exchange-and-correlation effects) is better physics. For a metal-like emitter with work-function 4.5 eV, the SN-barrier-related Murphy-Good FE equation predicts LECD values that are higher than the elementary equation values by a large factor, often between 250 and 500. By failing to mention/apply this 60-year-old established science, or to inform readers of the large errors associated with the elementary equation, many papers (aided by inadequate reviewing) spread a new kind of "pathological science", and create a modern research-integrity problem. The present paper aims to enhance author and reviewer awareness by summarizing relevant aspects of FE theory, by explicitly identifying the misjudgment in the original 1928 Fowler-Nordheim paper, by explicitly calculating the size of the resulting error, and by showing in detail why most FE theoreticians regard the 1950s modifications as better physics. Suggestions are made, about nomenclature and about citation practice, that may help diminish misunderstandings. It is emphasized that the correction recommended here is one of several needed to improve the presentation of theory in FE literature, and only a first step towards higher-quality emission theory and improved methodology for current-voltage data interpretation.

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With a large-area field electron emitter (LAFE), it is desirable to choose the spacings of individual emitters in such a way that the LAFE-average emission current density and total current are maximised, when the effects of electrostatic depolarization (mutual screening) are taken into account. This paper uses simulations based on a finite element method to investigate how to do this for a LAFE with randomly distributed emitters. The approach is based on finding the apex field enhancement factor and the specific emission current for an emitter, as a function of the average nearest neighbor spacing between emitters. Using electrostatic simulations based on the finite element method, the influence of neighboring emitters on a reference emitter being placed at the LAFE centre is investigated. Arrays with 25 ideal (identical) conical emitters with rounded tops are studied for different emitter densities and applied macroscopic fields. A theoretical average spacing is derived from the Poisson Point Process Theory. An optimum average spacing, and hence optimum emitter density, can be predicted for each macroscopic field.

This paper discusses alternative physical explanations of experimental field emission current-voltage characteristics (particularly those from carbon-nanotube arrays), and re-examines the existing theory of Fowler-Nordheim plots.

This paper defines a new type of intercept correction factor for use in connection with the tangent method of analyzing Fowler-Nordheim plots. Unlike the factor previously used, the new factor is well defined and can be evaluated precisely for simple barrier models. Theory using the new factor is intended to replace existing theory. Applications will be presented elsewhere. © 2012 IEEE.

The commonest method of characterizing a cold field electron emitter is to measure its current-voltage characteristics, and the commonest method of analysing these characteristics is by means of a Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plot. This tutorial/review-type paper outlines a more systematic method of setting out the Fowler-Nordheim-type theory of cold field electron emission, and brings together and summarises the current state of work by the authors on developing the theory and methodology of FN plot analysis. This has turned out to be far more complicated than originally expected. Emphasis is placed in this paper on: (a) the interpretation of FN-plot slopes, which is currently both easier and of more experimental interest than the analysis of FN-plot intercepts; and (b) preliminary explorations into developing methodology for interpreting current-voltage characteristics when there is series resistance in the conduction path from the high-voltage generator to the emitter's emitting regions. This work reinforces our view that FN-plot analysis is best carried out on the raw measured current-voltage data, without pre-conversion into another data format, particularly if series resistance is present in the measuring circuit. Relevant formulae are given for extracting field-enhancement-factor values from such an analysis.

This conference paper provides an overview of the material presented in two field electron emission tutorial lectures given at the 2016 Young Researchers' School in Vacuum Microand NanoElectronics, held in Saint-Petersburg on October 5-6 2016. This paper aims to indicate the scope and structure of the tutorials, and also where some of the related published material can be found.

This conference paper supports an overview presented elsewhere in this conference, by setting out detailed theory about the concept of "kernel current density", and about the development of a simple numerical test for (lack of) emission orthodoxy. The test can be applied to any form of linear (or nearly linear) Fowler-Nordheim plot. © 2012 IEEE.

This paper presents the results of a re-examination of the wave-mechanical theory of electron emission across an exact triangular barrier. This is a fourth-generation treatment of a problem first addressed by Fowler and Nordheim in 1928, subsequently by other researchers. The outcome is a transparent derivation of an exact general analytical formula (previously found by Jensen) and the identification of numerous special cases in which specific approximations to the general formula apply.

An improved method is reported for deriving the equations for cold field electron emission from a free-electron metal. It is shown that the derivation of these equations can be presented as a straightforward double integral in a space where the vertical axis represents the total electron energy, and the horizontal axis represents the component of electron kinetic energy parallel to the emitter surface. A general approach is developed that applies to a tunnelling barrier of any shape. It is shown that the temperature-correction factor derived by Murphy and Good for emission through an image-rounded barrier also applies to a more general barrier. For the standard image-rounded barrier the results coincide with those of Murphy and Good, but the derivation is more straightforward mathematically and the physics involved can be visualized more easily. The method developed here should be a good foundation for developing an improved theory of cold field electron emission from semiconductors: the main object of the paper is to lay this foundation. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.

The work described in this conference poster follows up recent work on the interpretation of Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plots. It puts in place some enabling theory that should allow further development of plot interpretation theory, in the context of the sphere-on-othogonal-cone (SOC) emitter model. This model is expected to be more suitable, for small-apex-radius emitters, than the spherical-emitter (SPH) model. First, this report shows (as expected) that use of the spherical image-potential-energy formula, rather than the planar formula, appears to make little difference to the values of calculated parameters. Second, values of the exponent n (in the SOC model) are tabulated as a function of internal cone half-angle. Third, an expression is derived for the electrostatic component of electron motive energy, in the SOC model. Finally, the results of a sample calculation are presented. This compares values of the slope correction factor σ for the SPH and SOC models, for emitter-radius values 20 nm and 5 nm. As expected, the results for the two models are similar for 20 nm, but diverge as apex radius decreases. © 2013 IEEE.

This poster explores the influence of an improved surface potential energy model on the predicted characteristics of cold field electron emission. We explore effects on the shape of Fowler-Nordheim plots, and on the values of slope and intercept correction functions.

The Schottky-Nordheim (SN) barrier is used in the "standard" theory of cold field electron emission (CFE) developed by Murphy and Good in 1956. For the SN barrier, it is mathematically impossible to derive analytical solutions of the Schrödinger equation in terms of the common functions of mathematical physics. Existing simple analytical CFE theories are based on so-called "quasi-classical" quantum-mechanical methods, typically a JWKB-type approximation. Recently, numerical methods have been applied to the SN barrier that should generate accurate solutions for the transmission coefficient DT. This poster is a "tidy-up" exercise that explores quantitatively how these accurate solutions put correction factors into Fowler-Nordheim-type equations.

In the previous chapter, building on recent efforts to characterize carbon nanotube fibers (CNFs) as efficient electron emission sources suitable for compact, high power, high frequency vacuum electronic devices, an exhaustive approach towards optimizing CNF field electron emission (FE) properties was proposed. It consists of a platform of scientific enquiry geared towards a meaningful comparison between different CNF-based emitters. The platform envisages an iterative procedure involving (a) the growth, processing, and functionalization of CNFs, (b) full investigation of the CNF material properties before and after FE diagnosis, and (c) multi-scale modeling of FE properties, including self-heating, shielding effects and beam characteristics for both CNFs and the emitting carbon nanotubes (CNTs) at the fiber apexes. The modeling would be applicable to a wide variety of CNFs and wire-like sources, and would provide essential feedback to the growth, processing, and functionalization of CNFs, in order to optimize their FE properties, especially long-term stability, low noise and maximum emission current, current density, emittance and brightness. In this chapter, we first report simulations of the influence of self-heating effects on the field emission (FE) properties of CNFs and their dependence on the product of the electrical and thermal conductivities of the fibers. We study the sensitivity of the FE of CNFs as the dimensions and numbers of CNTs at the apex of the fiber are varied. The influence of the field enhancement factors of both the shank of the fiber and the CNTs at its apex on the FE properties of CNFs is also analyzed. We conclude the chapter with a study of the influence of the electrostatic shielding on the FE characteristics of two CNFs as a function of the distance between the axes of the two fibers.

In field electron emission (FE) studies, it is important to check and analyse the quality and validity of results experimentally obtained from samples, using suitably plotted current-voltage [Im(Vm)] measurements. For the traditional plotting method, the Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plot, there exists a so-called "orthodoxy test" that can be applied to the FN plot, in order to check whether the FE device/system generating the results is "ideal". If it is not ideal, then emitter characterization parameters deduced from the FN plot are likely to be spurious. A new form of FE Im(Vm) data plot, the so-called "Murphy-Good (MG) plot" has recently been introduced (R.G. Forbes, Roy. Soc. open sci. 6 (2019) 190912. This aims to improve the precision with which characterization-parameter values (particularly values of formal emission area) can be extracted from FE Im(Vm) data. The present paper compares this new plotting form with the older FN and Millikan-Lauritsen (ML) forms, and makes an independent assessment of the consistency with which slope (and hence scaled-field) estimates can be extracted from a MG plot. It is shown that, by using a revised formula for the extraction of scaled-field values, the existing orthodoxy test can be applied to Murphy-Good plots. The development is reported of a prototype web tool that can apply the orthodoxy test to all three forms of FE data plot (ML, MG and FN).

This poster records the various methods historically used to accurately calculate the Schottky-Nordheim barrier functions used in tunnelling theory. This can now be done via a spreadsheet. Electronic copies of a suitable spreadsheet can be made available. This extended abstract also contains some underlying basic theory.

An experimental apparatus and a LabView-based software suite were developed to conduct realtime research on field electron emission. The authors observed and analyzed the current–voltage characteristics of emitters based on carbon nanotube/polystyrene nanocomposites. A simple quantitative test was used to compare such characteristics with the classical field electron emission theory. Copyright 2016 American Vacuum Society

This poster explores the influence of tip curvature on field electron emission characteristics. We look at predicted changes in: Fowler-Nordheim plots (which tend to become curved); the dependence of notional emission area on voltage; and the slope and intercept correction functions.

Cold field electron emission (CFE) is a statistical electron emission regime where the emitted current is generated by the escape of electrons by Fowler-Nordheim (FN) tunnelling from states close in energy to the emitter's Fermi level. Particularly over the last ten years or so, there has been much interest in developing electron sources based on CFE from relatively large substrate areas that support many individual emitters or emission sites. In this paper, the use of the concept of "area efficiency of emission" when dealing with equations describing field emission from large-area electron sources is presented.

Mainstream field electron emission (FE) theory—the theory normally used by FE experimentalists—employs a Sommerfeld-type free-electron model to describe FE from a metal emitter with a smooth planar surface of very large extent. This chapter reviews the present state of mainstream FE theory, noting aspects of the history of FE and thermal electron emission theory. It sets out ways of improving the theory’s presentation, with the ultimate aim of making it easier to reliably compare theory and experiment. This includes distinguishing between (a) emission theory and (b) device/system theory (which deals with field emitter behaviour in electrical circuits), and between ideal and non-ideal device behaviours. The main focus is the emission theory. Transmission regimes and emission current density regimes are discussed. With FE, a method of classifying different FE equations is outlined. With theories that assume tunnelling through a Schottky-Nordheim (SN) (“planar-image-rounded”) barrier, a careful distinction is needed between the barrier form correction factor ν (“nu”) and the special mathematical function v (“vee”). This function v is presented as dependent on the Gauss variable x. The pure mathematics of v(x) is summarised, and reasons are given for preferring the use of x over the older convention of using the Nordheim parameter y [=+√x]. It is shown how the mathematics of v(x) is applied to wave-mechanical transmission theory for basic Laurent-form barriers (which include the SN barrier). A brief overview of FE device/system theory defines and discusses different auxiliary parameters currently in use, outlines a preferred method for characterising ideal devices when using FN plots and notes difficulties in characterising non-ideal devices. The chapter concludes by listing some of the future tasks involved in upgrading FE science.

This poster presents a simple derivation of the result that (for a large free-electron conductor) the electron supply density is constant in energy-space and is given by the Sommerfeld supply density zS, and also proves the formula for zS. This result is the best starting point for deriving Richardson-Schottky-type and Fowler-Nordheim-type equations. For small emitters the supply density is not constant in energy-space; consequently, emission from small emitters is not well described by these equations.

This paper introduces the physical concept of Emission Reference Level (ERL) and relates it to the already-used concept of reference barrier height HR. The ERL is a concept particularly helpful for small emitters, where quantum confinement effects occur, but can also be used to clarify energy diagrams drawn to explain field electron emission from bulk emitters.

This note records theoretical inconsistencies found in the theory chapter of a recent handbook relating to carbon nanotube field electron emitters, suggests corrections and makes some general comments.

Building on recent efforts to characterize carbon nanotube fibers (CNFs) as efficient electron emission sources suitable for compact, high power, high frequency vacuum electronic devices, this chapter proposes an exhaustive approach towards optimizing CNF field emission (FE) properties. It outlines how a platform of scientific enquiry geared towards a meaningful comparison between different CNF-based emitters can be developed. The platform envisages an iterative procedure involving (a) the growth, processing, and functionalization of CNFs, (b) full investigation of the CNF material properties before and after FE diagnosis, and (c) multi-scale modeling of FE properties, including self-heating, shielding effects and beam characteristics in the CNFs and in the emitting carbon nanotubes (CNTs) at the fiber apexes. The modeling would be applicable to a wide variety of CNFs and wire-like sources, and would provide essential feedback to the growth, processing, and functionalization of CNFs, in order to optimize their FE properties, especially long-term stability, low noise, maximum emission current, current density, emittance, and brightness.

An important parameter used to characterize large-area field electron emitters (LAFEs) is the characteristic apex field enhancement factor γC. This parameter is normally extracted from the slope of a Fowler-Nordheim (FN) plot. Several years ago, the development of an “orthodoxy test” allowed a sample of 19 published FN plots relating to LAFEs to be tested, and it was found that about 40% of the related papers were reporting spuriously high values for γC. In technological papers relating to LAFE characterization, the common practice is to preconvert the measured voltage into an (apparent) value of the macroscopic field before making and analyzing an FN plot. This paper suggests that the cause of the “spurious field enhancement factor value” problem is the widespread use of a preconversion equation that is defective (for example, not compatible with ordinary electrical circuit theory) when it is applied to so-called “nonideal” field emission devices/systems. Many real devices/systems are nonideal. The author argues that FN plots should be made using raw experimental current-voltage data, that an orthodoxy test should be applied to the resulting FN plot before any more-detailed analysis, and that (in view of growing concerns over the reliability of published “scientific” results) reviewers should scrutinize field emission materials characterization papers with enhanced care.