In this study, a simple potassium hydroxide treatment was applied to functionalize the surface and to modify the structure of multi-walled carbon nanotubes grown on silicon substrates by thermal chemical vapor deposition. Scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy,
Raman spectroscopy, and energy dispersive spectrometry were employed to investigate the mechanism causing the modified field-emission properties of carbon nanotubes. From our experimental data, the emitted currents of carbon nanotubes after potassium hydroxide treatment are enhanced by more
than one order of magnitude compared with those of untreated carbon nanotubes. The emitted current density of carbon nanotubes increases from 0.44 mA/cm2 to 7.92 mA/cm2 after 30 minutes KOH treatment. This technique provides a simple, economical, and effective way to
enhance the field-emission properties of carbon nanotubes.
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