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The field emission characteristics of patterned carbon nanotubes whose average diameter is 16nm cathodes on substrates with surface treatment were investigated. The surface treatment of the substrate was performed by nickel electroless plating. Carbon nanotubes were patterned on the surface treated substrate with radius of 200μm through conventional photolithography process. It was revealed that the different surface morphologies of the substrates have influence on the field emission characteristics in this study. Through the surface treatment, the roughness of the surface increased and cathode with a high roughness factor showed better field emission characteristics compared to non-treated ones.