2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jim Browning


The goal of Nano Channel Vacuum Transistor (NVCT) research is to develop and characterize three-terminal vacuum transistor devices that operate in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and withstand temperatures up to 400 °C. The transistors consist of an insulated gate, an emitter array, and a collector. To avoid overheating the collector, the gate is pulsed from 0 to 40 V at a duty cycle of 10-20% while the emitter and collector are fixed DC voltages of 0V and 100 V, respectively. Current from emitter to collector is measured to obtain an output current – input voltage plot (I-V curve). The devices are heated using a molybdenum chuck inside the UHV chamber. After preliminary tests, the devices are moved to the UHV lifetime test chamber and run with pulsed gate voltage with fixed amplitude at constant temperature for hundreds of hours. Periodic IV sweeps are also conducted to observe changes. Factors such as overheating and arcing can lead to device degradation or failure. The goals of the project include designing driver systems for the devices, implementing automated Data Acquisition (DAQ) hardware to control and monitor testing systems, and using data to characterize the devices and determine approximate lifetime, maximum operating conditions, and failure conditions.