Authors: D. Roy Mahapatra, N. Sinha, R. Melnik, J.T.W. Yeow
Affilation: University of Waterloo, Canada
Pages: 729 - 732
Keywords: carbon nanotube, electron-phonon, defect, impurity, transport, field emission
Field emission from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the form of arrays or thin films give rise to several strongly correlated process of electromechanical interaction and degradation. Such processes are mainly due to (1) electron-phonon interaction (2) electromechanical force field leading to stretching of CNTs (3) ballistic transport induced thermal spikes, coupled with high dynamic stress, leading to degradation of emission performance at the device scale. Fairly detailed physics based models of CNTs considering the aspects (1) and (2) above have already been developed by these authors, and numerical results indicate good agreement with experimental results. What is missing in such a system level modeling approach is the incorporation of structural defects and vacancies or charge impurities. This is a practical and important problem due to the fact that degradation of field emission performance is indeed observed in experimental I-V curves. What is not clear from these experiments is whether such degradation in the I-V response is due to dynamic reorientation of the CNTs or due to the defects or due to both of these effects combined. Non-equilibrium Green’s function based simulations using a tight-binding Hamiltonian for single CNT segment show up the localization of carrier density at various locations of the CNTs. About 11% decrease in the drive current with steady difference in the drain current in the range of 0.2-0.4V of the gate voltage was reported in literature when negative charge impurity was introduced at various locations of the CNT over a length of ~20nm. In the context of field emission from CNT tips, a simplistic estimate of defects have been introduced by a correction factor in the Fowler-Nordheim formulae. However, a more detailed physics based treatment is required, while at the same time the device-scale simulation is necessary. The novelty of our present approach is the following. We employ a concept of effective stiffness degradation for segments of CNTs, which is due to structural defects, and subsequently, we incorporate the vacancy defects and charge impurity effects in the Green’s function based approach. Field emission induced current-voltage characteristics of a vertically aligned CNT array on a Cu-Cr substrate is then simulated using a detailed nonlinear mechanistic model of CNTs coupled with quantum hydrodynamics. An array of 10 vertically aligned and each 12 m long CNTs is considered for the device scale analysis. Defect regions are introduced randomly over the CNT length. The result shows the decrease in the longitudinal strain due to defects. Contrary to the expected influence of purely mechanical degradation, this result indicates that the charge impurity and hence weaker transport can lead to a different electromechanical force field, which ultimately can reduce the strain. However, there could be significant fluctuation in such strain field due to electron-phonon coupling. The effect of such fluctuations (with defects) is clearly evident in the field emission current history. The average current also decreases significantly due to such defects.