Electron emission from GaN/LaB6 cold cathodes

R. D. Horning, A. I. Akinwande, P. Paul Ruden, B. L. Goldenberg, John King

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Recent developments in vacuum microelectronics have led to a resurgence of interest into cold cathode emission for applications to a variety of electronic devices. The devices include microwave vacuum transistors and tubes, cathodoluminescent flat panel displays, pressure sensors, high temperature and radiation hardened electron devices. For these new applications, the ideal cold cathode should have the following characteristics: (i) low-voltage operation (5-20 volts), (ii) high current density (5-10 A/cm2), (iii) room temperature operation and (iv) stable and durable operation. Effective Negative-Electron-Affinity (NEA) and Optoelectronic Cold Cathode (OECC) structures have been fabricated using a combination of the wide-bandgap semiconductors, GaN and AlGaN, and the low work function metal, LAB6. In the NEA structure, electrons are injected from an n-type GaN layer into a thin p-type GaN layer. Appropriate design of the p-type thickness, which was guided by Monte Carlo transport simulations, allows some fraction of the injected electrons to arrive at the p-GaN/LaB6 interface with enough energy to traverse the thin LaB6 layer and emit into vacuum. In the OECC, photons are generated at a p-n junction in GaN. The photons are subsequently absorbed by a LaB6 layer, creating electrons with sufficient energy (3.4 ev) to overcome the LaB6 work function of approximately 2.5 eV. The GaN and LaB6 fabrication will be discussed in detail. Results of the photoemission from thin LaB6 films and electron emission from hybrid and monolithic cold cathodes will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the IEEE International Vacuum Microelectronics Conference, IVMC
Number of pages1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996
EventProceedings of the 1996 9th International Vacuum Microelectronics Conference, IVMC - St.Petersburg, Russia
Duration: Jul 7 1996Jul 12 1996


OtherProceedings of the 1996 9th International Vacuum Microelectronics Conference, IVMC
CitySt.Petersburg, Russia


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