Nanocarbon materials are of great interest as field emission cathodes due to their low threshold voltage. In this work current-voltage characteristics of nanocarbon electrodes were studied. Low-threshold emission was found in planar samples where field enhancement is negligible (<10). Electron work function values, calculated by Fowler-Nordheim theory, are anomalous low (<1 eV) and come into collision with directly measured work function values in fabricated planar samples (4.1-4.4 eV). Non-applicability of Fowler-Nordheim theory for the nanocarbon materials was confirmed. The reasons of low-threshold emission in nanocarbon materials are discussed.
Atmosphere water influence in the nanostructured silicon (NSS) was investigated by IR-spectroscopy and electron work function measurement. Long-term non-reversible dynamics of IR-spectra was found as a result of 100% humidity influence on the nanostructured silicon. It was indicated that air humidity affects on the work function. Dynamics of the electron work function consists of reversible and non-reversible components. Reversible component appears as strong anti-correlation between work function and humidity. Work function change of NSS is about 0.4 eV while the humidity changes between 0% and 100%. Reversible component can be explained by physical sorption of water molecules on the surface. Non-reversible component manifests as long-term decreasing trend of work function in humid atmosphere. Transition curve during abruptly humidity changes alters its shape. Non-reversible component can be explained by chemisorption of water.
Influence of gas sorption and desorption on field emission current evolution from carbon nanotube cathodes was investigated. Two types of nanotube cathodes were made: nanotubes grown from gas phase on stainless steel and nanotubes deposited from solution on Si substrate. Exposure of cathode to air at atmospheric pressure leads to increase of starting current with rapid decrease. We associate this effect of reversible degradation with some kind of field desorption. Sorbed gases reduce the work function and thus increase emission current. Different gases demonstrate different effect on the current behavior. We observed desorption process in low field values ~10<sup>4</sup>−10<sup>5</sup> V/cm.