Document Type



Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Wonbong Choi

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Roberto R. Panepucci

Third Advisor's Name

Surendra K. Saxena

Fourth Advisor's Name

W. Kinzy Jones


Vacuum, Nanowires, Field emission, Field emitters, Carbon nanotube, Electron multiplier, Microchannel plate

Date of Defense



The aim of this research was to demonstrate a high current and stable field emission (FE) source based on carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and electron multiplier microchannel plate (MCP) and design efficient field emitters. In recent years various CNT based FE devices have been demonstrated including field emission displays, x-ray source and many more. However to use CNTs as source in high powered microwave (HPM) devices higher and stable current in the range of few milli-amperes to amperes is required. To achieve such high current we developed a novel technique of introducing a MCP between CNT cathode and anode. MCP is an array of electron multipliers; it operates by avalanche multiplication of secondary electrons, which are generated when electrons strike channel walls of MCP. FE current from CNTs is enhanced due to avalanche multiplication of secondary electrons and in addition MCP also protects CNTs from irreversible damage during vacuum arcing. Conventional MCP is not suitable for this purpose due to the lower secondary emission properties of their materials. To achieve higher and stable currents we have designed and fabricated a unique ceramic MCP consisting of high SEY materials. The MCP was fabricated utilizing optimum design parameters, which include channel dimensions and material properties obtained from charged particle optics (CPO) simulation. Child Langmuir law, which gives the optimum current density from an electron source, was taken into account during the system design and experiments. Each MCP channel consisted of MgO coated CNTs which was chosen from various material systems due to its very high SEY. With MCP inserted between CNT cathode and anode stable and higher emission current was achieved. It was ~25 times higher than without MCP. A brighter emission image was also evidenced due to enhanced emission current. The obtained results are a significant technological advance and this research holds promise for electron source in new generation lightweight, efficient and compact microwave devices for telecommunications in satellites or space applications. As part of this work novel emitters consisting of multistage geometry with improved FE properties were was also developed.





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