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Field emission from a MOSFET-controlled ZnO nanowire (NW) cathode is reported. The emission current was modulated in four orders of magnitude (from 0.2 nA to 1.15 μA ) by tuning the MOSFET gate voltage from 0.8385 to 1.5255 V. The modulation of the emission current showed an exponential relationship with the MOSFET gate voltage. The MOSFET control can dramatically reduce the emission current fluctuation, i.e., from 61.4% to 3.2%, at a current level of ~ 650 nA. The related mechanisms responsible for the improvement on field-emission current stability, the correlation between the vacuum breakdown of the NWs, and the failure of the MOSFET were discussed. The technique combines cold-cathode nanomaterials with mature solid-state technology to produce a reliable cathode in an on-chip form, which shows promising potential for modern vacuum micro-/nanosized electronic device applications.