Schottky Field Emission Sources FAQ

Are field emission (FE) sources less reliable than thermionic sources?

No, they can be highly reliable, operating continuously over many months.

What are the advantages of Schottky field emission compared to cold field emitters (e.g. W(310) or W(111))?

The major advantages include:

  • Better beam current stability.
  • Less stringent vacuum requirements.
  • The absence of a need for periodic emitter flashing to restore the emission current.

What are the vacuum requirements for the operation of a Schottky field emission source?

Typically, the vacuum requirements are 10-9 mbar or better in the source region.

What are the brightness levels of Schottky sources compared to thermionic sources?

Schottky field emitters have brightness of about 108Acm-2sr-1 whereas thermionic emitters have about 105 Acm-2sr-1.

Do Schottky emitters need replacing very frequently?

The lifetime of a Schottky emitter is determined by the lifespan of the Zr reservoir in the tip structure, typically around 8000 hours.

Are there special steps to be taken in turning on a Schottky source?

Care is required to prevent thermal shock to the emitter and to avoid electrical breakdown transients as the extraction voltage is applied. Additionally, the operating temperature should not exceed 1850 K.

Can any thermionic source be replaced by a Schottky field emitter?

In principle, yes. However, there might be a need for differential pumping of the source to maintain adequately low pressure.