The individual CNT-supported carbon nanocones previously mentioned revealed excellent electron emitters. A new carbon-based field emission electron source for TEM was therefore designed, built, successfully tested, and then patented, which exhibits superior brightness, coherence, and stability with respect to the best, current W-based emitters. The feasibility of actually introduce the carbon-cone emitter technology in commercial electron microscope is currently investigated by Hitachi High Technology, the current world leader in cold-FEG-equipped TEM and SEM. As the field of applications based on electron field emission is broad and ranges from electron guns for instruments to pixel-bricks of next generation flat screen, the related physics is also investigated, either in cold field emission conditions for which both the electric field and the charge distribution are mapped in situ by electron holography, or upon the interaction with a pulsed-laser-generated electric field. Investigating the role and efficiency of substitutional atoms (N, B, P, S) in lowering the work function for generating more electrons during the emission process is also planned.
Interestingly, the carbon nanocones, once mounted on cantilevers, also revealed as excellent AFM probes, whose superiority with respect to existing high resolution probes on the market regarding durability and performances is anticipated.