Materials Research Activities

Binnig & Rohrer paper 4 (HelvPhysActa1983)

Paper 4 (Helvetica Physica Acta):

Comparison of resolutions of different microscopes.

  • STM: shaded area.
  • HM: high-resolution optical microscope.
  • PCM: phase-contrast microscope
  • (S)TEM: (scanning) transmission electron microscope
  • SEM: scanning electron microscope
  • REM: reflection electron microscope
  • FIM: field ion microscope.

Binnig and Rohrer, again on their own, submitted a paper to Helvetica Physica Acta in late December 1982. This was a further study of Si(111) providing evidence for the so-called 7x7 reconstruction (reconstruction refers to the way in which surface atoms rearrange themselves due to the dangling orbitals that do not connect to other atoms). They reemphasized that the theory was not yet understood. STM images do not simply reproduce surface-atom corrugation, but rather the corrugation of electron wave functions near the Fermi level. Nonetheless, they claimed, surface structure is reflected. Binnig and Rohrer also addressed the constituency of scientists with attachment to rival instrumentation. While they pointed to STM's greatest advantage, images taken directly in real-space (by contrast LEED, atom diffraction, and ion channelling are all indirect in that scattered intensity profiles are compared against a test model; and they all require periodic surfaces), they also conceded that STM is just a complement to, not a competitor of, other forms of microscopy. The image on the left reflects Binnig and Rohrer's conciliatory stance. In our interview, they reemphasized that they were not playing in a zero-sum game: the expansion of STM experimentation does not necessarily imply a loss for other forms of apparatus.

Further small details: they introduced viton connectors at the end of each spring, and they mentioned the possibility of resonant tunneling as a further option with the STM (studying s-V instead of I-V, s being the tunnel distance). Query: why this journal? Did a local journal offer quick publication or did Binnig & Rohrer desire to reach a Swiss audience?

Source: G. Binnig and H. Rohrer, "Scanning tunneling microscopy", Helvetica Physica Acta, 55 (1982), 726-735, at 734. Reproduced by permission of Birkhäuser Verlag Basel.

  • Introduction to Binnig & Rohrer's 1981-1986 publications

  • Paper 1 (Applied Physics Letters 1982)

  • Paper 2 (Physical Review Letters 1982)
  • Paper 3 (Surface Science 1982)
  • Paper 4 (Helvetica Physica Acta 1983), you are here
  • Paper 5 (Surface Science Letters 1983)
  • Paper 6 (Physica 1984)
  • Paper 7 (Surface Science 1984)
  • Paper 8 (Surface Science Letters 1985)
  • Paper 9 (Europhysics Letters 1986)
  • Paper10 (Scientific American 1986)
  • Interview with Binnig and Rohrer, to be featured soon - members may click here.

This page was last updated on 15 May 2001 by Arne Hessenbruch.