Indexed on: 04 Oct '03Published on: 04 Oct '03Published in: Physical review letters
We report a systematic experimental investigation of the mechanism of desorption of chlorobenzene molecules from the Si(111)-(7 x 7) surface induced by the STM at room temperature. We measure the desorption probability as a function of both tunneling current and a wide range of sample bias voltages between -3 V and +4 V. The results exclude field desorption, thermally induced desorption, and mechanical tip-surface effects. They indicate that desorption is driven by the population of negative (or positive) ion resonances of the chemisorbed molecule by the tunneling electrons (or holes). Density functional calculations suggest that these resonant states are associated with the pi orbitals of the benzene ring.