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The carbon nanotube has good field emission properties, so it has been used as the electron source on the field emission display panel. To obtain a high emission current, the electric field at the tip of the nanotube must be large enough. This article studies the variation of electric field with different types of nanotubes. The emission current of the nanotube is also calculated for various geometrical parameters of nanotubes. From the simulation results, the influence of the geometrical parameters on the emission performance of nanotubes is studied. © 2000 American Vacuum Society.