ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom

Large scale electron beam services could be made more efficient through the use of tiny diamond tips according to a new study undertaken by the US Department of Energy (DoE).

The study primarily looked into how diamond tip arrays could be used along with a concept known as field emission to create transversely shaped electron beams, to see if particular shapes are more effective for different purposes.

Before these experiments, the main way to produce a transverse beam was to use an intercepting mask on the electron beam to catch the beam and shape it after it had been fired, which was inconsistent and hazardous.

Applying a field emission field diminishes the quantum barriers electrons can tunnel through, which according to one of the authors of the study, is the equivalent of turning a brick wall into easily penetrable drywall.

The experiment used photoelectric cathodes which were shaped using a strongly concentrated electric field.

The researchers achieved this using a film of diamond pyramids no bigger than 10 micrometres per side and arranged into a 1mm equilateral triangle to form a triangular electron beam.

The complication of such a process is having to balance two competing phenomena to have both power and the correct shape.

Too high a current on the electron beam and the electrons would not maintain their triangular shape, but the current needed to be high enough to ensure the electrons would leave the diamond material in the first place.

There is a range of potential applications for a transversely shaped beam, including radiofrequency guns, terahertz devices and nanoelectronic purposes.