Probing the shape of atoms in real space

Research paper by M. Herz, F. J. Giessibl, J. Mannhart

Indexed on: 06 May '03Published on: 06 May '03Published in: Physics - Materials Science


The structure of single atoms in real space is investigated by scanning tunneling microscopy. Very high resolution is possible by a dramatic reduction of the tip-sample distance. The instabilities which are normally encountered when using small tip-sample distances are avoided by oscillating the tip of the scanning tunneling microscope vertically with respect to the sample. The surface atoms of Si(111)-(7 x 7) with their well-known electronic configuration are used to image individual samarium, cobalt, iron and silicon atoms. The resulting images resemble the charge density corresponding to 4f, 3d and 3p atomic orbitals.