Indexed on: 04 Jun '08Published on: 04 Jun '08Published in: Physical review letters
We observed an inhomogeneous fluctuation along one-dimensional atomic wires self-assembled on a Si(111) surface using scanning tunneling microscopy. The fluctuation exhibits dynamic behavior at room temperature and is observed only in a specific geometric condition; the spacing between two neighboring adatom defects is discommensurate with the wire lattice. Upon cooling, the dynamic fluctuation freezes to show the existence of an atomic-scale dislocation or domain wall induced by such "unfavorably" paired adatoms. The microscopic characteristics of the dynamic fluctuation are explained in terms of a hopping solitonic domain wall, and a local potential for this motion imposed by the adatoms is quantified.