Direct Measurement of Surface Diffusion Using Atom-Tracking Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

Phys. Rev. Lett. 76, 459 – Published 15 January 1996
B. S. Swartzentruber


The diffusion of Si dimers on the Si(001) surface at temperatures between room temperature and 128 °C is measured using a novel atom-tracking technique that can resolve every diffusion event. The atom tracker employs lateral-positioning feedback to lock the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) probe tip into position above selected atoms with subangstrom precision. Once locked the STM tracks the position of the atoms as they migrate over the crystal surface. By tracking individual atoms directly, the ability of the instrument to measure dynamic events is increased by a factor of 1000 over conventional STM imaging techniques.


  • Received 18 September 1995
  • Published in the issue dated 15 January 1996

© 1996 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

B. S. Swartzentruber

  • Surface and Interface Science, MS 1413, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-1413

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