Field emission: New theory for the derivation of emission area from a Fowler–Nordheim plot

Richard G. Forbesa)
University of Surrey, School of Electronic Engineering, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH, United Kingdom

Received 20 July 1998; accepted 25 January 1999 This article takes a fresh look at the theoretical basis of methods for deriving emission area from the intercept of a Fowler–Nordheim FN plot. It sharpens the concepts involved, by defining a generalized FN equation, an intercept correction factor, and an emission-area extraction function. Some new general formulas are introduced. An improved version of the Charbonnier and Martin CM F. M. Charbonnier and E. E. Martin, J. Appl. Phys. 33, 1897 1962 method for extracting emission area is discussed; this is numerically illustrated using formulas developed within the framework of Murphy and Good’s 1956 E. L. Murphy and R. H. Good, Phys. Rev. 102, 1464 1956 treatment of the theory of cold field emission from metals at zero temperature. It is shown that uncertainties were underestimated in the methods introduced by CM and by Spindt and colleagues, C. A. Spindt et al., J. Appl. Phys. 47, 5248 1976 but can be reduced by iterating the new method. Strictly, the numerical results presented apply only to field emission from materials that are, or behave like, metals. The numerical results are not exact in any absolute sense, but they are precise within the context of the formulation of FN theory normally used in technological contexts; further, they have been derived within the context of higher-level formulas of general validity, and are considered to be a well-defined and useful step towards future developments. Opportunity is taken to present the usual 1956 version of the FN equation in modern notation, employing quantity algebra, rmks equations, and precise up-to-date values of the relevant universal constants, and to give an equation that identifies the onset of field-induced ballistic emission. © 1999 American Vacuum Society. S0734-211X 99 09202-1

I. INTRODUCTION This article takes a fresh look at the interpretation of Fowler–Nordheim FN plots, especially the intercept made with the vertical axis. This intercept contains information about emission area. The work was originally stimulated by anomalous data1 derived from amorphous carbon films, where the possible applications in flat-panel display technology make it interesting to know what fraction of the film surface actually emits electrons. But investigation showed that the conventional theory of metal field emission is also incomplete, and needs to be dealt with first. The situation is as follows. Theory and tabulations have been developed by Houston,2 and by Burgess, Kroemer, and Houston,3 that allow the slope of FN plots to be interpreted in terms of the theory initiated by Fowler and Nordheim.4,5 But, although there are numerical approximations, no precise method directly analogous to Houston’s approach exists for interpreting the intercept of an experimental FN plot. This article reconsiders the basic theoretical issues involved. It will retrofit some general formulas into the theory, examine existing numerical approximations, take another look at the accuracy of two long-established methods for obtaining emission area from a FN plot, and consider an alternative approach. The term Fowler–Nordheim theory will be used here to mean the theory of cold field emission of electrons from metals into vacuum. FN theory has been presented in many

Electronic mail: J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 17„2…, Mar/Apr 1999

versions. However, the formulation commonly used, especially in technological contexts, is the zero-temperature version of the 1956 treatment by Murphy and Good6,7 MG ; I shall refer to this as standard FN theory. The literature contains many ‘‘extensions’’ of this standard theory. Advanced discussions that deal with bandstructure and wave-mechanical effects have been reviewed, for metals for example by Gadzuk and Plummer8 and by Modinos,9 and for semiconductors by Modinos.9 Special features arising when the emitter is nonplanar and its radius is small have been discussed, for example, by Cutler, Miskovsky, and colleagues,10,11 Kirkpatrick, Mankofsky, and Tsang,12 and others.13,14 Alternative methods of evaluating barrier penetration coefficients that avoid use of the Jeffreys–Wentzel–Kramers–Brillouin JWKB approximation have, for example, been discussed by Cutler et al.15 and by Mayer and Vigneron.16 Notwithstanding all these extensions, it has seemed best to use standard FN theory to provide the numerical illustrations of the basic ideas in this article. These numerical illustrations will not be exact in any absolute sense, but they are mathematically precise within standard FN theory, and they provide a useful step towards further developments. The structure of this article is as follows. Section II deals with some theoretical preliminaries. Section III deals with general theory relating to Fowler–Nordheim plots, in particular, the idea of an intercept correction factor. Section IV discusses the concept of an emission-area extraction function, and shows how it may be calculated precisely within
©1999 American Vacuum Society 526



Both and may be functions of . The mathematical form of the image potential also deserves comment. and v are the well-known quantities used in their paper. essentially.Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures Equation 5a has the advantage that the symbol e clearly has the same meaning and value in both terms that include it. Relaxing one or more of these leads to equations in various forms and approximations. using x to denote distance from the metal’s electrical surface. 3 Standard Fowler–Nordheim theory uses the following physical assumptions. These precise values. and thus given by R el Aa 1 where y. 5b . and P h P /2 . the generalized form 3 is used here. measured in erg1/2 cm1/2 or eV1/2 nm1/2 . with the electrical surface and the image plane in the same place. 1a where is the local work function of the emitting surface. hence. and v has a work function that is uniform across the emitting surface and is independent of external field. therefore.830 888 109 eV where e is the elementary positive charge. THEORETICAL PRELIMINARIES A. vii the exchange-and-correlation interaction between the emitted electron and the surface can be represented by a classical image potential. i. precise modern values are given here for universal constants appearing in FN theory. F is the external electric field taken as a positive quantity . Elementary Fowler–Nordheim equation are generalized correction factors. 5a where 0 is the electric constant. based on the 1986 values of the fundamental physical constants. →v y . .527 Richard G. 4 6 A eV V 2. For the MG treatment. Generalized Fowler–Nordheim equation Equation 1 is valid only under the conditions stated. II. Their discussion goes beyond these assumptions. and that S el is negative. All can be regarded as specialized versions of the generalized Fowler–Nordheim equation I Aa 1 F 2 exp b 3/2 /F 2 R elF 2 exp S el/F . Eq. in particular. Obviously. Section V briefly discusses field-induced ballistic emission. Section VI shows how to use the extraction function to derive information about emission area and related uncertainties. Forbes: Field emission: New theory for emission area 527 the framework of standard FN theory. the potential V(x) is best written as V x eFx e 2 /16 0 x. the results in Sec. iv has a smooth flat surface. in fact.e. A is the area of emission. 1a . However. iii is at zero temperature. Nordheim’s assumption and the Murphy and Good treatment F 2 exp b 3/2 /F R elF 2 exp S el/F . The conventions of the International System of Measurement are employed. in that emission at finite temperatures was also treated. use of the rmks form is. strongly recommended. t. whose where and form in a given case depends on the particular assumptions and approximations made. and using the rmks system. 3/2 1b V m 1. JVST B .359 913 eV nm. 1c 2m e 1/2 /e P 6. and a and b are universal constants given by a e 3 /8 h P 1. R el and S el are parameters defined by Eq. those of Nordheim’s theory as further developed by Sommerfeld and Bethe19 in 1933. F. 1d For a surface of given work function and size.. but adopts the other assumptions. Taking the metal Fermi level as a reference level. For reference. Elementary FN theory replaces vii above by the assumption that correlation-and-exchange effects may be neglected in a first approximation. The Murphy and Good treatment in 1956 was the first fully satisfactory mathematical analysis of the standard physical assumptions. III below are of wider applicability. In semilogarithmic form. B. known to an accuracy of about one part in 106 . This barrier was originally proposed by Schottky. but we use only zero-temperature theory here. practical field-emission contexts need only the first two or three significant figures. Note that R el contains information about the area of emission. and viii barrier penetration coefficients may be evaluated using the JWKB approximation. For the resulting simple triangular barrier. a useful formula is e 2 /16 0 0. Nordheim’s 1928 theory5 included these.541 434 10 b 4 3 Elementary FN theory neglects correlation-and-exchange effects. ii has electrons obeying Fermi–Dirac statistics. →t 2 y . and other quantities.18 but I refer to its use in FN theory as the Nordheim assumption. 2 becomes ln I/F 2 ln R el S el/F. m e is the electron mass. and must be identified with t 2 (y) and v (y). S el b 3/2 . quantity algebra and rmks equations.17 demonstrate that the literature often uses an out-of-date value for b. That the metal: i has a free-electron band structure. For evaluating the image potential. taking the barrier as the sum of a uniform electric field and an image potential. but the constants in this elementary theory are. The standard physical assumptions of FN theory are. Section VII presents a summary and discussion. R el and S el are constants. respectively. P is Planck’s constant. It is also assumed that: vi there is a uniform electric field outside the metal surface. the elementary Fowler–Nordheim equation gives the magnitude I of the emission current as I Aa 1 C. This is not obviously the case when the image potential is represented in the Gaussian-system form e 2 /4x where e here represents Gaussian elementary charge.

Implementation in standard FN theory F P d /dF P. 1. independent of the details of any particular model of cold field emission from metals. 7 where P (F P ). Making substitutions using Eq. The well-known Nordheim parameter yN is defined by y N cF 1/2/ . parameters associated with a tangent to the theoretical curve described by Eq. No. as far as I can establish. 4 gives r N t N 2 exp S el d v N /dF P . 12 where we have now changed notation and use v N and t N to denote the well-known functions usually denoted by v (y) and t(y). including Nordheim’s assumption. To interpret empirical results in terms of theory. The basic physical reason is that is a function of field and. the parameters derived from an empirical FN plot are. when fitting to experimental data. 11 below. yield ln r/ r S el P s /F P S el d /dF P P. by definition: ln I P /F 2 P ln rR el sS el/F P . el 6 exp S el d /dF . no general formula in the existing literature. Eq. these lines start from the is a same point on the vertical axis. we represent the fitted line in an empirical local-field-based FN plot by ln I/F 2 Subtraction and rearrangement. Forbes: Field emission: New theory for emission area 528 FIG.528 Richard G. 1. then substitution using Eq. then the ‘‘theoretical FN plot’’ is the tangent to this curve. 1. Mathematically. Vac. To some it may not be obvious why r is not equal to . and are termed the intercept correction factor and slope correction factor. For any particular model. taken at point P. 8 directly from the gen9 III. the relationships between r. Mar/Apr 1999 Provided that is constant or weakly field dependent. then s P B. of 1/F. hence. s. The quantities r( R/R el) and s( S/S el) are factors that represent corrections to the predictions of elementary FN theory.794 687 10 5 eV V 1/2 m1/2. This is the more usual case and is illustrated in Fig. ln I/F2 are obtained using the lines 1 and 2. and P and the derivative (d /dF) P are evaluated at a field F P in the middle of the range over which the FN plot extends. If the generalized FN equation gives a curve over the range of fields near F P .e. Obviously. c e 3 /4 0 1/2 13a 3. it is readily shown using Eq. 17. See the text for a detailed explanation. To illustrate the mathematics associated with the definition of the intercept correction factor r. Because is assumed to be independent of field. the former situation is a special case of the latter. We may derive a theoretical expression for r as follows. in a certain sense. getting ln I P /F 2 P ln R el PS el For metals. SLOPE AND INTERCEPT OF THE FOWLER–NORDHEIM PLOT A. because function of field. This way of looking at things is illustrated in Fig. This is a generalized form of a result used by Houston. New basic theory Alternatively. So. Technol. as is usually the case. will now be proved. the framework of the MG analysis of the standard physical assumptions of FN theory . and must be known. Within the framework of standard FN theory i. care must be taken to use procedures and statistical methods appropriate to the nature of the data.2 For the FN-plot intercept r there is. 11 is a general result. The subscript ‘‘N’’ indicates that these functions. Vol. 10 11 ln R S/F ln rR el sS /F. . B. 2. However. Eq. 3 can be assumed neglithat when field dependence in ln gible. IP /F2 P /F P . 3 . and has a slope (sS el) and an intercept ln(rRel). are defined within the framework set by the standard physical assumptions. we obtain . which are sometimes called Nordheim functions. the lines have different slopes. If the generalized FN equation gives a straight plot over the range of fields in question. Points P and Q denote the values of ln I/F2 defined by the generalized FN equation for the two field values F P and F Q . where ln R and S are the intercept and slope of the fitted line. empirical Fowler–Nordheim plots are often straight lines. In the so-called linearized FN form. which shows the case where the generalized correction factor varies significantly with field but the factor does not. we can substitute specific expressions for and to derive a function that gives an estimate of r within the framework of that model: we call such a function an estimator of r. The simplest general formula. 13b On using this definition to replace d v N /dF. 7 .. For the FN-plot slope s. in circumstances where the correction factor varies significantly with field. From the FN plot. these values of J. Sci. respectively. we denote the estimator for the intercept correction factor by r N . then the ‘‘theoretical FN plot’’ is the straight line drawn through these points. we can obtain ln eralized FN Eq. 3 .

where s N is the estimator. 21 back into Eq. and s N . the existing numerical expressions can be seen as approximations for r N . 20 and 21. Refs. r N can be calculated precisely in the context of standard FN theory. and its validity does not depend on the details of any particular model of cold field electron emission. in standard FN theory. Substituting Eq. where a comparison is made with approximations derived from the work of Charbonnier and Martin20 CM and the work of Spindt and co-workers. Calculated results from Eq. the exact value also depends on the field value. 15 Value of r N 56–185 1/2 1/2 where ln RV and S V are the intercept and slope of the experimental voltage-based FN plot. although in principle one might expect it to be less accurate than regression on a FN plot. my product C 2 is analogous to their term ‘‘5. 18b 18c where g is a fundamental constant.96 1013g( )’’ . 21 This method has been used in past work. For reasons made clear below.21. and the FN plot is represented by an equation of the form JVST B . for the slope correction factor.192 489 1013 A m rs 2 2 2 r N y N.g. Formally. that the experimental intercept of the FN plot is not equal to the preexponential in the semilogarithmic form of the FN equation. 19 The physical effect.Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures The above assumes that R V and S V have been obtained by fitting a straight line to a FN plot.22 The value of r N is in all cases a function of the local work function . given by N r Ns 2 N 2 s2 tN 2 N 2 exp gu N 1/2 . it becomes possible to compare precise values of r N with values derived from the approximate expressions in current use. emission-current measurements are made as a function of applied voltage V. this is usually not the case: normally. this relationship is a general one. and individual values may be obtained from existing tabulations3. I call an emission area extraction function. are compared with the numerical approximations of other authors. Forbes: Field emission: New theory for emission area 529 TABLE I. This is done in Table I. then it is readily shown that 2 1 16 ) where RV Approximate treatments: Charbonnier and Martina r N 0. 18a shows the FN equation can also be written in the form J I/A C 2 S V /V 2 exp S V /V . 14 . 8 in the article of Spindt et al. it is useful to have tabulated as a function of work function and current density. 17 Reference 20. using the formula:21 S V /V 2 I/V dI/dV. Origin Precise treatment: Eq. Alternatively. whereas the approximations are independent of field.5 eV. The agreement between the exact and approximate treatments is certainly worse than the present author expected. t N 2 exp gu N 1/2 . for a value of 4. 22 This equation is equivalent to Eq.20 my product C 2 . and are approximating quantities for my generally defined quantities R V and S V . v N . N . hence. e. the use of empirical Fowler–Nordheim plots based on local field is only possible if there is some independent means of measuring the local field. and u N a function only of yN. is analogous to their term ‘‘1. y N 1 d v N /dy N s N v N /y 2 . for fields in the range 3–9 V/nm. Clearly. C. and . given by g bc 2 9. and gets worse still as lower work-function values are used. IV.14 109 G( )’’ which in the units used here would be ‘‘1. Obviously. 3 in Charbonnier and Martin’s article.9 of y N .b r N 0. If the local-field F at the emitting area is related to the applied voltage by F V. 20 and R V can then be estimated from RV I/V 2 exp S V /V . when divided by ln(100).91 exp 9. the value of S V can be estimated from local measurements of dI/dV near one point on a current/voltage characteristic. The new feature is having a formal physical expression for the intercept correction factor. Estimates for r N . The formulas given here have been converted to a common form.. u N and.14 1013G( )’’ . 14 here Formula for r N r N t N 2 exp(guN 1/2 ln I/V 2 ln R V S V /V. SV S. By making use of the definitions of r V and s and Eq. So. uN 1 2 14b 14c eV 2. However. Reference 21. and given by C 2 ab 2 7. in standard FN theory there is an estimator N for .21 Their quantities a and b involve numerical approximations made within the context of standard FN theory. we obtain a formula for the emission-area A: A R V S 2 /C 2 . Comparison with existing numerical approximations Once again. EMISSION AREA EXTRACTION FUNCTION In reality. is a constant.92 exp 10. As is well known. V where C 2 is a universal constant.96 109 g( )’’ which in the units used here would be ‘‘5.84 eV1/2 a b 127 94 R. The parameter can be eliminated by using the combination R V S 2 ( RS 2 ). Equation 18a is equivalent to Eq. 14a 18a a new function. has been known for many years.836 240 eV1/2.45 eV1/2 Spindt et al. 1d .529 Richard G.

0 4006 3892 3778 3662 3547 3430 3313 3195 3077 2957 2837 2717 2595 2472 2349 2225 2099 1973 1846 1717 1588 1457 1325 1192 1058 923 787 651 5.’’ N( . the area A could be estimated satisfactorily even when the local field and work func- J.50 4.0 4984 4805 4627 4449 4271 4095 3919 3743 3569 3395 3222 3049 2878 2707 2538 2369 2202 2036 1872 1709 1548 1388 1231 1077 925 777 633 ns it is convenient to express current density J as the common logarithm L of the numerical value of J measured in A/m2. B. From Eq. because of potential display applications.00 1. emission occurs partly or dominantly by field-induced ballistic emission. In these circumstances a FN-type equation certainly does not apply.695 /eV 2 .5 3952 3853 3752 3651 3549 3446 3342 3237 3130 3023 2914 2804 2693 2581 2467 2351 2234 2115 1994 1871 1746 1619 1489 1357 1223 1085 945 801 7. V. i.0 4262 4128 3993 3858 3723 3588 3452 3316 3180 3043 2907 2770 2633 2495 2357 2219 2081 1943 1804 1665 1527 1388 1249 1110 972 835 699 564 4. 23 This tabulation involves inversion of the FN equation. 17. APPLICATIONS A. ‘‘ns’’ means ‘‘no solution.00 4.00 5.00 8.50 9. then the logical implication might be that the emission is ballistic rather than via tunneling.50 5.L).0 3944 3840 3737 3632 3526 3420 3313 3204 3095 2985 2874 2761 2647 2533 2416 2299 2180 2059 1937 1813 1687 1560 1430 1298 1165 1028 890 749 6. Because of current interest in low-work-function materials. It is also possible for the analysis to be not physically self-consistent because the derived data correspond to thermionic-field emission TF rather than to cold field emission.50 1.50 11.L)/eV2 for values of work function /eV 3.00 10.5 11 150 10 610 10 080 9555 9044 8542 8049 7567 7095 6633 6182 5741 5312 4894 4488 4094 3712 3343 2988 2646 2319 2007 1711 1432 1170 ns ns ns 2.50 2.00 0. In such cases. 13 to yield values of y greater than 1. there has been considerable interest in field-induced emission from films of various carbon-based materials.530 Richard G.0 3979 3883 3785 3686 3587 3486 3384 3282 3178 3072 2966 2858 2748 2637 2525 2410 2294 2176 2056 1934 1809 1682 1552 1419 1284 1144 1002 855 L 0. Table II records that it is not possible to invert the FN equation.50 10.50 8.’’ A point worth making is that if the claimed ‘‘work function’’ is sufficiently low. L log10 J/A m 2 . where J is the magnitude of the emission-current density.e.0 7356 7041 6729 6420 6115 5814 5516 5223 4933 4647 4366 4089 3816 3548 3285 3027 2775 2528 2287 2052 1824 1603 1390 1185 990 804 ns ns 2.5 5784 5559 5335 5113 4892 4673 4456 4240 4026 3813 3603 3395 3188 2984 2782 2583 2386 2192 2001 1813 1629 1448 1271 1100 933 772 ns ns 3.1 eV have been ‘‘found. Mar/Apr 1999 .00 7. equivalently.00 2. This has led to claims that very low ‘‘work-function values’’ less than 0. 24 It was originally Charbonnier and Martin20 who argued that.50 7.50 13. Argument of Charbonnier and Martin 0.00 3.5 4100 3978 3855 3731 3607 3483 3358 3233 3106 2981 2854 2726 2598 2469 2340 2210 2080 1948 1816 1684 1551 1417 1282 1147 1012 876 741 606 5. and the FN equation no longer applies. Vol. Forbes: Field emission: New theory for emission area 530 TABLE II. 13 it is readily shown that the onset of ballistic emission occurs at fields F b given approximately by F b / V nm 1 Recently. FN plots and FN theory have on occasion been used to analyze the current/ voltage characteristics of electron emission from such materials. low and high F . and the fields inserted into the FN analysis were sufficiently high.00 11.50 6.5 4532 4380 4228 4076 3924 3773 3621 3470 3319 3168 3017 2866 2715 2565 2415 2265 2115 1966 1817 1669 1522 1375 1229 1085 941 800 662 ns 4. Vac. and the analysis is not physically selfconsistent. 2. This is because such cases cause Eq.. Values of the emission-area extraction function N ( .00 13.5 3959 3851 3742 3633 3523 3413 3301 3189 3076 2961 2846 2730 2613 2495 2376 2256 2134 2011 1887 1761 1634 1505 1375 1243 1109 974 837 699 6. even though the theory is not really applicable to nonmetals. and is described in more detail elsewhere.50 1.00 9.23 the outcome is Table II.00 6. values have been given for a wider range of values than is warranted by normal metal work-function values. showing that the top of the image-reduced barrier has been pulled down below the Fermi level. for specified values of the work-function .50 12. No. VI. Sci. Technol.00 12. L denotes log10 J/(A m 2) . due to the mathematical properties of what I now call an emission-area extraction function.50 3. FIELD-INDUCED BALLISTIC EMISSION For the combination of low values of work-function and high values of current-density L or.

so I choose this. and a consistent set of values of V. and 937. However.21 suggest a minimum work function of 3. used the mathematical properties of the functions G( ) and g( ) to make their uncertainty estimates. 20 recommend applying their method in the ‘‘low-current-density range. This figure of 50% is large. Obviously.6 eV is unnecessarily high. where the macroscopic field is measured. So.. But. g( ).531 Richard G. For reasons connected with the mathematics of G( ) they did not need to firmly specify an upper limit for . if can be estimated. It is fair to regard the later methods as variants of the CM original suggestion. We encompass these bounds by putting 2000 1000 eV2 in Eq. Calculations show that values of /eV2 at the corners of the domain 3.L).5 choice. Fuller discussion of these variants will appear elsewhere.L) as emission-area extraction functions. is described below. It is possible to apply this emission-area extraction method via Eq. the bounds will vary by a factor of nearly 4.Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures . B. from Eq.e. From Table II. A suitable range for can be decided on the basis of experimental circumstances.5 eV. C 2 is a known constant.4 eV. where % 1/1804 1/2914 / 1/1804 1/2914 100% 24%. i. using the slope and intercept of a FN plot. 22 will be in the ratio 3700/937. A similar method.5  5 L 9 are 2907. as a result of knowledge or by iteration see below . It follows that the upper and lower bounds derived from Eq. 20. It follows that an emission area derived via Eq.4–11. and N ( . so I will use my choice of 6.5. and we have seen that these are fair rather than good. 20 suggest a minimum useful current density of 105 A/m2. and the uncertainty drops to my value of 50% equivalent to a factor of 3 . The numerical approximations have looked satisfactory for the last 35 years or so. An upper bound is decided by choosing a minimum current density and appropriate values. with no smaller or larger values in the domain. we can find the range in which A lies. With the more reasonable choice of /eV 6. so the extraction function cannot be evaluated precisely. and state its accuracy as 7% when 4 eV. the domain 4 1994. and knowledge and experience as to what ranges of the work function. if the likely ranges of the current-density and work-function values can be reduced. 22 . JVST B . CM Ref. 22 would have an uncertainty %. Their method was based on a function G( ) and a measurement of I.2.. and S V can be derived experimentally. I. and 1804. these choices indicate an upper bound for of about 3000 eV2. 21 and 22. Spindt et al. 22 . rather than the voltage. In reality. and all the functions G( ). then so can the current density J( I/A) and the area A. and is also significantly greater than the uncertainty 10% predicted by Spindt and colleagues for their similar method. few work-function values are as high as 6. A will be obtained with an uncertainty of 50%.22 An improved approach. This is massively greater than their predicted variation by 10%. Forbes: Field emission: New theory for emission area 531 tion were not well known. My choices are as follows. These functions were derived using the numerical approximations in Table I. values of N /eV2 at the corners of /eV 6.5 eV.6  5 L 12 are 3048. 22 . so this is an unexpected result. the CM argument is as follows.’’ where L lies between 5 and 9. 1934. we can estimate the range within which lies. and current density are plausible. but is in fact well compatible with the 20% error CM found in the electron microscope experiments20 on conventional single-point emitters they carried out to check their procedure. Hence. The conclusion must be that the numerical approximations in Table I are not adequate for estimating uncertainty in emission-area extraction: a precise theory is required. by a factor of about 1. the choice of 11. a vacuum arc24 starts when J exceeds a value between 1011 and 1012 A/m2. based on my function N ( . This implies that. so I choose the range 3.21 and Brodie and Spindt. this result is significantly greater than the 7% predicted in Ref. They do not specify a current-density range. It is also possible to apply equivalent methods to the measurements. Spindt et al. usually on planar emitters.21 discuss a work-function range 3. From Table II. so I will choose 5 L 12 the single-tip emitters listed in their Table I are emitting near the top of this range . The mathematical properties of limit the uncertainty in A. 3700. The important issue is how accurately can the extraction of the emission area be done. but seems correct and appropriate if our knowledge of the current density and work function is as poor as assumed above. with no smaller or larger values in the domain. For a metal such as tungsten. the domain becomes the same as my 3. 18 . But this is still much greater than the 10% suggested in Refs. The function N ( . but using a slightly different function g( ). and made only for reasons associated with the mathematics of their function g( ). CM Ref. i. Applied to the present context. In their treatment. Comparisons with earlier discussions This 50% uncertainty estimate derived from the present version of the CM argument is much greater than the uncertainty CM predicted from their version 7% . field. I use the collective term Charbonnier and Martin’s Argument for all such methods.6 eV.5–6. 2914. is discussed by Spindt et al.L) used here has related but different mathematical properties. These discrepancies probably exist because CM and Spindt et al. we can establish the uncertainties predicted by the present theory. because the experiments discussed have been single-point measurements.4 /eV 11. The actual values of the local work function and local field are assumed unknown. with precise experimental data. The analysis here has been based on Eq. then the uncertainty of area estimation can be reduced. and dI/dV. Since there is published information about the choices of L and made in these earlier treatments. V.5 eV.e. inspection of Table II suggests taking 1000 eV2 as the lower bound.

may lie in the comparison of such estimates with independent estimates of emission area. via Eq. 173 1928 . 1956 . 17 E. The right-hand-side columns compare the new area estimates with the original estimates A Sp derived in Ref. Phys.0 7. H. London. Bur. Houston.1 0. typically. Our new concepts are of general applicability. Tsang.12–14 The work presented here is deliberately limited in its scope. introduction of the intercept correction factor r. 60. in Handbuch der Physik. clarification of the formula here written as Eq. 4 R. 14 R. Sullivan. The greatest value of emission-area estimates extracted using Table II. 1 . 626 1928 . 90. Modinos. Rev. 869 1998 . Vac. and associated theory. M. and T. Phys. J. M. N. Rev. Phys. Natl. J.L). H. Estimates of emission area. and in assessing which deficiencies in standard assumptions are most critical. Nguyen. 21. Taylor. probably especially so for miniaturized or atomically sharp emitters. 42. 15 H. 2. in a second application of Table II. Any systematic discrepancies could provide quantitative experimental evidence for the breakdown or inapplicability of the standard physical assumptions. M. the main achievement of this work is to fill a gap in our formal understanding of how to apply Fowler–Nordheim theory. 333. Mankofsky. 11 P. Sci. this consolidated formulation will be easier to understand. Phys. T. of the order of 20%. Surf.5( 3160). M. via the MG treatment. Cohen and B. Vol. Sullivan. Lucas. This iteration may be repeated until the estimate converges. 22 . B. Very significant changes in might occur in some cases. Surf. and is a first step. and A. and might help guide future theoretical developments. Good and E. This procedure has been applied to original data tabulated by Spindt et al. Thermionic and Secondary Electron Emission Spectroscopy Plenum. 169 1993 . Cutler. Hopefully. 160. 9 A. H. W. J. P. P. introduction of formula 18 . and M. Silva. P. 88.6 1. This means that. If we have or assume a particular value of current.5 and 1. Proc. Sci. experimental errors are ignored. hence. A. 12 D. L. Nicolaescu. Z. These are proposed as small but useful improvements. Rev. J. R. Stand. E. Berlin. thereby displaying their strengths and weaknesses. Res. H. A 119. 515 1953 . Mayer and J. then the current density is now known to within a factor of at most 2.8–16 and a new form of inadequacy that the quantity might need to be treated as field dependent was suggested by Jensen25 at IVMC98. many of these standard assumptions are known to be inadequate. W.3 11. a smaller range of N is derived. Miskovsky. Phys. Muller. Proc. Phys. Vigneron.6 0. Technol. 16 A. 19 A. Rev. 3 R. 1984 . Soc. Miller. Matter 10.225 A Sp nm2 16. Lett. Forbes: Field emission: New theory for emission area 532 TABLE III. Nordheim. Surf. by a factor between 1. There is much work to be done in deriving modified estimators for r and s in more sophisticated versions of FN theory. Vac. Fuller details of these calculations will be provided elsewhere. with a range of uncertainty A. 1 Etched wire No. Scheel Springer. One effect of using a model that modifies one or more of the standard assumptions will be as follows. 14. Schottky. 1464 1956 .21 with respect to three emitters. 8 J.5 1. Cutler. the current must be known for at least one point of a current/voltage characteristic. Luckily. 2 J. Soc. 18c . Berlin. 392 1993 . Amaratunga and S. 487 1973 . 18 W. Appl. A. H. 17. VII. Gadzuk and E. Plummer. Miskovsky. R. edited by H. and tabulation of values of N ( . Geiger and K. N. Sci. F. Vol. Some papers that criticize the standard assumptions were cited earlier. SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION Theoretical innovations in this article have been: the introduction of the generalized correction factors and . Lett. in Handbuch der Physik. New York. Feuchtwang. 45.19 0. a modified estimator for the emission-area extraction function. 241. Appl. A mean . It forms part of a consolidation and ‘‘spring cleaning’’ of basic theory at the level used in engineering applications contexts. London. on J. the results are shown in Table III. Feuchtwang. by field electron microscopy . 13 D. 1933 . Field. E. In fact. He. edited by S. Mod. Another effect may be a need to treat the emission area as field dependent. Weiss. 102. Mar/Apr 1999 the standard physical assumptions of FN theory. 176. A 121. Hartman. Sci. 2065 1992 . 21. R.13 Line 1 2 3 Cathode Etched wire No. Ser. L. 2529 1996 . and introduction of iterative techniques to reduce uncertainty in emission-area extraction. and the final values of emission area are greater than those found by Spindt et al.. 92. for three cathodes whose emission characteristics are taken from Ref. Chung. Miskovsky. 10 J. and initially we assumed that the current density is known only to within a factor of at most 103. W. 63 1923 . Prog. E. in the author’s view. A. ¨ Flugge Springer. Good. 349 1952 . 85 1987 . B. 68. Sommerfeld and H. H. P. In the situation outlined above. T. 21. derived by iteration as discussed in the text. T. Nordheim. More generally. After one step in the procedure the area is known to within a factor of at most 2. E. and this in turn leads to a smaller uncertainty in area. J.7. Ser. introduction of the emission-area extraction function . Kirkpatrick. The estimates are shown in the form of a mean value. and to make that theory more coherent. G. In each case the experimental data were originally taken at a single emission-current value. The final estimates of uncertainty lie between 9% and 14%.: Condens.0 1. Burgess. 331 1985 . and provide some new tools for dealing with experimental field-emission data. Sci. But. In any such model there will be modified estimators for the slope and intercept correction factors and. Fowler and L. the numerical illustrations are based. N.192 A mean nm2 24. Technol. 7 ¨ R. W. B 11. 6 E. Kroemer. Houston. T. Technol. Phys. R. A. 754 1994 . Phys. if these could be obtained for example. H. He. and J. and K. J. Iterative applications An uncertainty of 50% is undesirable. 5 L. Table II would thus need to be replaced by a modified table derived from the new estimator for . N. Bethe. They set existing formulas and methods in the context of a formal theory. Vol. p. 348 1991 . this can be substantially reduced by means of an iterative approach. Table I. p. No. Q. 24/2. Cutler. W. 2 18-11-2T A 9% 11% 14% A mean /A Sp 1.7 C. and the inadequacies may include the Nordheim assumption itself.532 Richard G. and a suitable basis for future developments. Current A 1. Murphy and R. Vac. B 12. Sci. J.

Electron. J. 10th International Vacuum Microelectronics Conference. NC. A.533 20 21 Richard G. Technol. unpublished abstracts. Electron Phys. Martin. and E. Electron. Dolan. Dyke and W. 89 1956 . G. L. J. 33. Technol. 25 K. Jensen. 22 I. Sci. W. Spindt. 23 R. Brodie and C.Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures . 1897 1962 . Vac. Phys. JVST B . 5248 1976 . Humphrey. A. 8. M. B. Adv. July 1998. W. these proceedings. these proceedings. P. J. Vac. J. 18. I. Sci. Phys. C. Appl. Spindt. Charbonnier and E. Brodie. Appl. E. B. Asheville. 47. L. Electron Phys. Adv. Forbes. R. Forbes: Field emission: New theory for emission area 24 533 F. 1 1992 . Westerberg.

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