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2017 MRS Spring Meeting

"SPM Goes Live - Seeing Dynamic Phenomena with the Scanning Tunneling Microscope" - the 2017 MRS Innovation in Materials Characterization Award Talk

Apr 18, 2017 3:30pm ‐ Apr 18, 2017 4:15pm


Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and other forms of Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM), are traditionally applied mainly to static structures that are investigated mainly under relatively artificial conditions, such as ultrahigh vacuum (UHV). This is surprising in light of the relative insensitivity of the operation mechanism of STM and that of most other types of SPM to such aspects as temperature or gas pressure or even the presence of liquids.

In this talk, I will demonstrate that it is possible to apply SPM techniques without compromising their atomic resolution even under harsh conditions. Extra attention is required to construct the SPM instrumentation such that it avoids the complications that are introduced by these conditions, such as excessive thermal drift or damage to delicate components. This is, in principle, a straightforward engineering task, which leads typically to dedicated designs for specific classes of imaging conditions.

The examples provided in this talk are all live STM observations of relevant dynamic surface phenomena. They range from model catalysts under the conditions of high temperatures and high pressures at which they are being used in the chemical industry, to the chemical vapor deposition of graphene on metal substrates6 and the atom-by-atom deposition or erosion of surfaces under the influence of atom and ion beams.

An interview with Dr. Frenken about his work and this talk is available here.


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