The ability to accurately design carbon nanofibre (CN) field emitters with predictable electron emission characteristics will enable their use as electron sources in various applications such as microwave amplifiers, electron microscopy, parallel beam electron lithography and advanced Xray sources. Here, highly uniform CN arrays of controlled diameter, pitch and length were fabricated using plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition and their individual emission characteristics and field enhancement factors were probed using scanning anode field emission mapping. For a pitch of 10 μm and a CN length of 5 μm, the directly measured enhancement factors of individual CNs was 242, which was in excellent agreement with conventional geometry estimates (240). We show here direct empirical evidence that in regular arrays of vertically aligned CNs the overall enhancement factor is reduced when the pitch between emitters is less than half the emitter height, in accordance to our electrostatic simulations. Individual emitters showed narrow Gaussian-like field enhancement distributions, in excellent agreement with electric field simulations.
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