Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Applied Science


Brian C Holloway


Recently, carbon nanosheets (CNS), a novel nanostructure, were developed in our laboratory as a field emission source for high emission current. to characterize, understand and improve the field emission properties of CNS, a ultra-high vacuum surface analysis system was customized to conduct relevant experimental research in four distinct areas. The system includes Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), field emission energy spectroscopy (FEES), field emission I-V testing, and thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS). Firstly, commercial Mo single tips were studied to calibrate the customized system. AES and FEES experiments indicate that a pyramidal nanotip of Ca and O elements formed on the Mo tip surface by field induced surface diffusion. Secondly, field emission I-V testing on CNS indicates that the field emission properties of pristine nanosheets are impacted by adsorbates. For instance, in pristine samples, field emission sources can be built up instantaneously and be characterized by prominent noise levels and significant current variations. However, when CNS are processed via conditioning (run at high current), their emission properties are greatly improved and stabilized. Furthermore, only H2 desorbed from the conditioned CNS, which indicates that only H adsorbates affect emission. Thirdly, the TDS study on nanosheets revealed that the predominant locations of H residing in CNS are sp2 hybridized C on surface and bulk. Fourthly, a fabricating process was developed to coat low work function ZrC on nanosheets for field emission enhancement. The carbide triple-peak in the AES spectra indicated that Zr carbide formed, but oxygen was not completely removed. The Zr(CxOy) coating was dispersed as nanobeads on the CNS surface. Although the work function was reduced, the coated CNS emission properties were not improved due to an increased beta factor. Further analysis suggest that for low emission current (10 uA), thermal, ionic or electronic transition effects may occur, which differently affect the field emission process.



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