The major role of the chemical reaction between a silica substrate and deposited carbon in the activation process for the formation of a surfaceconduction electron emitter (SCE) is investigated. The SCE emits electrons by the tunneling effect when an electric field is applied across a nanoscale gap. The nanogap is spontaneously formed by the activation process, wherein a pulse voltage is applied between a pair of electrodes, which are separated by a narrow gap inside a vacuum chamber in the presence of hydrocarbons. At the gap, two elemental processes compete; the deposition of carbon by the electron-induced decomposition of hydrocarbons and the consumption of carbon by reaction with the silica substrate. The balance of the dynamics of the two processes, which simply depends on the temperature at the gap, is responsible for the spontaneous determination of the width of the nanogap. The calculation based on the model that involves the two competitive processes agrees with the experimental results on the activation process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Engineering
- General Physics and Astronomy