An electron emitter comprising a textured silicon wafer overcoated with a thin (200 .ANG.) layer of nitrogen-doped, amorphous-diamond (a:D-N), which lowers the field below 20 volts/micrometer have been demonstrated using this emitter compared to uncoated or diamond coated emitters wherein the emission is at fields of nearly 60 volts/micrometer. The silicon/nitrogen-doped, amorphous-diamond (Si/a:D-N) emitter may be produced by overcoating a textured silicon wafer with amorphous-diamond (a:D) in a nitrogen atmosphere using a filtered cathodic-arc system. The enhanced performance of the Si/a:D-N emitter lowers the voltages required to the point where field-emission displays are practical. Thus, this emitter can be used, for example, in flat-panel emission displays (FEDs), and cold-cathode vacuum electronics.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.