Chapter 3. Theory of Field Emission

  1. Wei Zhu Ph.D.
  1. Kevin L. Jensen

Published Online: 15 APR 2002

DOI: 10.1002/0471224332.ch3

Vacuum Microelectronics

Vacuum Microelectronics

How to Cite

Jensen, K. L. (2001) Theory of Field Emission, in Vacuum Microelectronics (ed W. Zhu), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA. doi: 10.1002/0471224332.ch3

Editor Information

  1. Bell Laboratories—Lucent Technologies, 600 Mountain Avenue, Murray Hill, NJ 07974, USA

Author Information

  1. Naval Research Laboratory, 4555 Overlook Avenue SW, Washington, District of Columbia 20375-5347

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2002
  2. Published Print: 1 OCT 2001

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471322443

Online ISBN: 9780471224334



  • emission theory;
  • Fowler–Nordheim equation;
  • electron tunneling;
  • barrier height;
  • image potential;
  • space charge;
  • field enhancement;
  • one-dimensional theory;
  • multi-dimensional structure


Chapter 3 presents a broad and representative review of the complex and diverse theoretical work on field emission. It proceeds from basic theory to more advanced topics and covers:

  • Basic field emission concepts, including tunneling, current density, barrier height, chemical potential, image charge potential, field enhancement, emission area, space charge, transconductance, modulation frequency, and transit time

  • Fowler–Nordheim equation

  • One-dimensional tunneling theory for metals and semiconductors

  • Multi-dimensional emission structures, such as hyperbolic and ellipsoidal structures and nanoprotrusions.