This article describes the characterization of field emission from a planar cathode to a spherical anode with the approach curve method (ACM). In such a diode configuration the electric field strength at the cathode surface is nonuniform. This nonuniformity gives an extra degree of freedom and it allows the interpretation of the current-voltage and voltage-distance (V×d) curves in terms of nonuniformity. The authors apply the ACM to Cu emitters to explain the nonlinearity of the V×d curve in ACM measurements. This analysis provides a good insight into field emission phenomena, supporting a method for nonuniformity characterization based on field emission behavior.

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