A Primer on Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM)
Scanning Probe Microscopes and their remarkable ability to provide three-dimensional maps of surfaces at the nanometer length scale have arguably been the most important tool in establishing the world-wide emergence of Nanotechnology. In this talk, the fundamental ideas behind the first scanning probe microscope – the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) – will be reviewed. By controlling quantum mechanical electron tunneling, an exquisitely sensitive probe can be built to measure height variations above a surface at the picometer (10 -12 m) level. Some of the historically important problems solved by STMs will be discussed and a few of the important design principles required to build an STM will also be outlined.