Finite element simulation and analytical analysis for nano field emission sources that terminate with a single atom: A new perspective on nanotips

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Abstract

Nanotips are highly demanded for various applications in nanotechnology. For instance, nanotips with a single atom end can be used as a source of self collimated electron or ion beams. Such tips are usually characterized in the field ion microscope (FIM) or the field emission microscope (FEM), where only a top view can be captured and analyzed. We have noticed that single atom tips fabricated by different methods produce electrons in FEM mode, or ions in FIM mode, at a wide range of applied voltages for the respective mode. In this work we present numerical and analytical analyses to the distribution of the electric field in the vicinity of the nanotip apex that holds the topmost single atom. We demonstrate that although the electric field is relatively enhanced by the nano protrusion it is still significantly dominated by the tip base. The analyses explicitly show that nanotips with broad bases produce even less field than some modest tips, at the same applied voltage. This pronounced effect of the tip base accounts for the relatively high voltages needed at the imaging threshold field. The results reveal that single atom tips are not necessarily sharp at a mesoscopic scale and the tip sharpness has to be determined from the combination of the nanotip apex (FIM or FEM) image and the applied voltage.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)1750-1755
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Surface Science
Volume258
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2011

Keywords

  • Field emission
  • Nano electron and ion source
  • Nano fabrication
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nanotip and single atom tip

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