The effect of 2.245 GeV Au-ion irradiation/postannealing processes on the electron field emission (EFE) properties of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) films was investigated. Au-ion irradiation with a fluence of around 8.4×1013 ions/cm2 is required to induce a large improvement in the EFE properties of the UNCD films. Postannealing the Au-ion irradiated films at 1000 °C for 1 h slightly degraded the EFE properties of the films but the resulting EFE behavior was still markedly superior to that of pristine UNCD films. Transmission electron microscopy examinations revealed that the EFE properties of the UNCD films are primarily improved by Au-ion irradiation/postannealing processes because of the formation of nanographites along the trajectory of the irradiating ions, which results in an interconnected path for electron transport. In contrast, the induction of grain growth process due to Au-ion irradiation in UNCD films is presumed to insignificantly degrade the EFE properties for the films as the aggregates are scarcely distributed and do not block the electron conducting path.
Journal of Applied Physics 108(12), 123712(7pages)