The electron field emission (EFE) properties of microcrystalline diamond(MCD) films are significantly enhanced due to the Fe coating and post-annealing processes. The 900 °C post-annealed Fe coated diamond films exhibit the best EFE properties, with a turn on field (E0) of 3.42 V/μm and attain EFE current density (Je) of 170 μA/cm2 at 7.5 V/μm. Scanning tunnelling spectroscopy (STS) in current imaging tunnelling spectroscopy mode clearly shows the increased number density of emission sites in Fe-coated and post-annealed MCD films than the as-prepared ones. Emission is seen from the boundaries of the Fe (or Fe3C) nanoparticles formed during the annealing process. In STS measurement, the normalized conductance dI/dVI/V versus V curves indicate nearly metallic band gap, at the boundaries of Fe (or Fe3C) nanoparticles. Microstructural analysis indicates that the mechanism for improved EFE properties is due to the formation of nanographite that surrounds the Fe (or Fe3C) nanoparticles.
Journal of Applied Physics 111(12), pp.124309 (9 pages)