Nanotube cathodes.

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Carbon nanotubes have shown promise for applications in many diverse areas of technology. In this report we describe our efforts to develop high-current cathodes from a variety of nanotubes deposited under a variety of conditions. Our goal was to develop a one-inch-diameter cathode capable of emitting 10 amperes of electron current for one second with an applied potential of 50 kV. This combination of current and pulse duration significantly exceeds previously reported nanotube-cathode performance. This project was planned for two years duration. In the first year, we tested the electron-emission characteristics of nanotube arrays fabricated under a variety of conditions. ... continued below

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29 p.

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Overmyer, Donald L.; Lockner, Thomas Ramsbeck; Siegal, Michael P. & Miller, Paul Albert November 1, 2006.

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Description

Carbon nanotubes have shown promise for applications in many diverse areas of technology. In this report we describe our efforts to develop high-current cathodes from a variety of nanotubes deposited under a variety of conditions. Our goal was to develop a one-inch-diameter cathode capable of emitting 10 amperes of electron current for one second with an applied potential of 50 kV. This combination of current and pulse duration significantly exceeds previously reported nanotube-cathode performance. This project was planned for two years duration. In the first year, we tested the electron-emission characteristics of nanotube arrays fabricated under a variety of conditions. In the second year, we planned to select the best processing conditions, to fabricate larger cathode samples, and to test them on a high-power relativistic electron beam generator. In the first year, much effort was made to control nanotube arrays in terms of nanotube diameter and average spacing apart. When the project began, we believed that nanotubes approximately 10 nm in diameter would yield sufficient electron emission properties, based on the work of others in the field. Therefore, much of our focus was placed on measured field emission from such nanotubes grown on a variety of metallized surfaces and with varying average spacing between individual nanotubes. We easily reproduced the field emission properties typically measured by others from multi-wall carbon nanotube arrays. Interestingly, we did this without having the helpful vertical alignment to enhance emission; our nanotubes were randomly oriented. The good emission was most likely possible due to the improved crystallinity, and therefore, electrical conductivity, of our nanotubes compared to those in the literature. However, toward the end of the project, we learned that while these 10-nm-diameter CNTs had superior crystalline structure to the work of others studying field emission from multi-wall CNT arrays, these nanotubes still had a thin coating of glassy carbon surrounding them in a sheath-like manner. This glassy carbon, or nano-crystalline graphite, is likely to be a poor conductor due to phonon scattering, and should actually be deleterious for extracting electrons with electric fields. While we did not achieve the field emission reported for single-wall carbon nanotubes that spurred the idea for this project, at the year's very end, we had a breakthrough in materials growth and learned to control the growth of very-small diameter nanotubes ranging from 1.4 to 7 nm. The 1.4-nm nanotubes are single-walled and grow at only 530 C. This is the lowest temperature known to result in single-wall carbon nanotubes, and may be very important for many applications that where certain substrates could not be used due to the high temperatures commonly used for CNT growth. Critically important for field emission, these small diameter nanotubes, consisting of only a few concentric graphene cylindrical walls, do not show the presence of a poorly-conductive sheath material. Therefore, these nanotubes will almost definitely have superior field emission properties to those we already measured, and it is possible that they could provide the necessary field emission to make this project successful. Controlled spacing and lengths of these single-wall nanotubes have yet to be explored, along with correlating their structures to their improved field emission. Unfortunately, we did not discover the methods to grow these highly-crystalline and small diameter CNTs until late in the year. Since we did not achieve the necessary emission properties by mid-year, the project was ''prematurely'' terminated prior to the start of the second year. However, it should be noted that with the late developments, this work has not hit the proverbial ''brick wall''. Clearly the potential still exists to reproduce and even exceed the high emission results reported for randomly-oriented and curly single-wall carbon nanotubes, both in terms of total field emitting currents and perhaps more importantly, in reproducibility.

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29 p.

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  • Report No.: SAND2006-7002
  • Grant Number: AC04-94AL85000
  • DOI: 10.2172/899358 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 899358
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc879034

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  • November 1, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Nov. 29, 2016, 9:28 p.m.

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Overmyer, Donald L.; Lockner, Thomas Ramsbeck; Siegal, Michael P. & Miller, Paul Albert. Nanotube cathodes., report, November 1, 2006; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc879034/: accessed September 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.