A Vacuum Transistor Based on Field-Assisted Thermionic Emission from a Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube


Vacuum triodes have been scaled down to the microscale on a chip by microfabrication technologies to be vacuum transistors. Most of the reported devices are based on field electron emission, which suffer from the problems of unstable electron emission, poor uniformity, and high requirement for operating vacuum. Here, to overcome these problems, a vacuum transistor based on Field-Assisted thermionic emission from individual carbon nanotubes is proposed and fabricated using microfabrication technologies. The carbon nanotube vacuum transistor exhibits an ON/OFF current ratio as high as 104 and a subthreshold slope of  4 V·dec−1. The gate controllability is found to be strongly dependent on the distance between the collector electrodes and electron emitter, and a device with the distance of 1.5 μm shows a better gate controllability than that with the distance of 0.5 μm. Benefiting from Field-Assisted thermionic emission mechanism, electric field required in our devices is about one order of magnitude smaller than that in the devices based on field electron emission, and the surface of the emitters shows much less gas molecule absorption than cold field emitters. These are expected to be helpful for improving the stability and uniformity of the devices.