Fractional Fowler-Nordheim Law for Field Emission From Rough Surface With Nonparabolic Energy Dispersion

Muhammad Zubair, Yee Sin Ang, Lay Kee Ang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The theories of field electron emission from perfectly planar and smooth canonical surfaces are well understood, but they are not suitable for describing emission from rough, irregular surfaces arising in modern nanoscale electron sources. Moreover, the existing models rely on Sommerfeld's free-electron theory for the description of electronic distribution, which is not a valid assumption for modern materials with nonparabolic energy dispersion. In this paper, we derive analytically a generalized Fowler-Nordheim (FN)-type equation that considers the reduced space-dimensionality seen by the quantum mechanically tunneling electron at a rough, irregular emission surface. We also consider the effects of nonparabolic energy dispersion on field emission from narrow-gap semiconductors and few-layer graphene using Kane's band model. The traditional FN equation is shown to be a limiting case of our model in the limit of a perfectly flat surface of a material with parabolic dispersion. The fractional-dimension parameter used in this model can be experimentally calculated from appropriate current-voltage data plot. By applying this model to experimental data, the standard field-emission parameters can be deduced with better accuracy than by using the conventional FN equation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2089-2095
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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