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Unique atomic views from STM's new kin.

Unique atomic views from STM's new kin

Since its invention nearly a decade ago, the scanning tunneling microsope (STM) has enabled scientists to examine materials with atomic resolution. Seeing--or, more accurately, imaging--atoms is becoming routine in an increasing number of labs. Moreover, the STM has spawned a family of related microscopes that operate according to a variety of physical principles. Together they are providing researchers with a remarkably panoramic view of atomic and molecular landscapes and events.

In the March 22 NATURE, physicist Clayton C. Williams and electrical engineer H. Kumar Wickramasinghe of IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., unveil yet another new member of the microscope family--the scanning chemical-potential microscope (SCPM). In STM images, the light, dark or colored areas represent the presence or absence of atoms. The spots on SCPM images provide unique information about how different atoms of a sample's surface vary in their chemical potential, a measure of their chemical reactivity. Among the SCPM's many possible applications, the researchers say, is the potential to distinguish between the atomic constituents of a surface rather than merely indicating the presence or absence of an atom at a specific location.
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Title Annotation:scanning tunneling microscope
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 7, 1990
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