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Dry and wet etching methods are used to fabricate arrays of ungated GaAs field emitters. Comparisons were made among tips, wedges, pillars and walls. Effects of the etching technique and subsequent deoxidation procedure on the GaAs surface are evaluated in terms of emitter geometry, uniformity, heating and integration. Moreover, the current emission capability of field emitter arrays is investigated. In particular, the influence of a thin surface oxide layer on the emission stability is observed. An extraction of geometrical parameters is attempted on the basis of a statistical examination of the emission characteristics and the validity of this approach is discussed. © 1999 American Vacuum Society.