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Comments on the continuing widespread and unnecessary use of a defective emission equation in field emission related literature

Forbes, Richard G. (2019) Comments on the continuing widespread and unnecessary use of a defective emission equation in field emission related literature Journal of Applied Physics.

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Field electron emission (FE) has relevance in many technological contexts. However, many technological papers use a physically defective elementary FE equation for local emission current density (LECD). This equation takes the tunneling barrier as exactly triangular, as in the original FE theory of 90 years ago. More than 60 years ago, it was shown that the Schottky-Nordheim (SN) barrier, which includes an image-potential-energy term (that models exchange-and-correlation effects) is better physics. For a metal-like emitter with work-function 4.5 eV, the SN-barrier-related Murphy-Good FE equation predicts LECD values that are higher than the elementary equation values by a large factor, often between 250 and 500. By failing to mention/apply this 60-year-old established science, or to inform readers of the large errors associated with the elementary equation, many papers (aided by inadequate reviewing) spread a new kind of "pathological science", and create a modern research-integrity problem. The present paper aims to enhance author and reviewer awareness by summarizing relevant aspects of FE theory, by explicitly identifying the misjudgment in the original 1928 Fowler-Nordheim paper, by explicitly calculating the size of the resulting error, and by showing in detail why most FE theoreticians regard the 1950s modifications as better physics. Suggestions are made, about nomenclature and about citation practice, that may help diminish misunderstandings. It is emphasized that the correction recommended here is one of several needed to improve the presentation of theory in FE literature, and only a first step towards higher-quality emission theory and improved methodology for current-voltage data interpretation.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Electronic Engineering > Advanced Technology Institute
Authors :
Forbes, Richard
Date : 13 November 2019
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 20 Nov 2019 10:55
Last Modified : 20 Nov 2019 10:55

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