Johnson, B. B., Schwoebel, P. R., Resnick, P. J., Holland, C. E., Hertz, K. L., & Chichester, D. L. (2013). Field ionization characteristics of an ion source array for neutron generators. Journal of Applied Physics, 114(17), 174906.
A new deuterium ion source is being developed to improve the performance of existing compact neutron generators. The ion source is a microfabricated array of metal tips with an integrated gate (i.e., grid) and produces deuterium ions by field ionizing (or field desorbing) a supply of deuterium gas. Deuterium field ion currents from arrays at source temperatures of 77 K and 293 K are studied. Ion currents from single etched-wire tips operating under the same conditions are used to help understand array results. I-F characteristics of the arrays were found to follow trends similar to those of the better understood single etched-wire tip results; however, the fields achieved by the arrays are limited by electrical breakdown of the structure. Neutron production by field ionization at 293 K was demonstrated for the first time from microfabricated array structures with integrated gates.