In order to find electron sources of low emittance and high quantum efficiency, single tip cathodes with a microstructured surface are investigated. Emission currents up to 310 A were obtained, by combining a 2 ns, 50 kV accelerating voltage pulse with a 266 nm wavelength, picosecond (sigma(t) = 6.2 ps) laser delivering a few mu J pulse energy. The multifilamentary cylindric Nb3Sn tip with a typical diameter of 0.8 mm provides quantum efficiencies up to 0.5%. The microstructured needle has also been tested in a combined diode-rf electron gun with 500 kV, 250 ns pulsed bias voltage as a first step towards reducing emittance-spoiling space-charge forces.