Das Photon-Rastertunnelmikroskop: Der Showroom für einzelne Atome

The photon scanning tunneling microscope: A showroom for single atoms

© Max Fuhrmann/TU Braunschweig
The main chamber of the Photon-STM. Easily recognizable: The tip holder above the sample.

The Photon-STM (Scanning Tunneling Microscope) at the LENA research center at TU Braunschweig can visualize individual atoms on a surface. It brings a tip as close as possible to a sample surface. Only two to five atoms fit between tip and sample. The microscope collects its information via a low but extremely precise electrical signal. This involves moving the tip line by line across the surface of the sample. Changes in the current signal provide information on height differences and electronic properties for each point.

However, the device can not only make individual atoms visible, but also place them at specific locations with the help of the tip. Atom by atom, artificial molecules can thus be produced. With such basic research, Professor Uta Schlickum’s working group, as part of QuantumFrontiers, is for instance clearing the way for future dyes improving solar cells or OLEDS.

The image of the main chamber of the Photon-STM is currently TU Braunschweig´s Picture of the Month.