23 November 2007
STMs get performance boost
Scanning tunneling microscopes could be set for a major performance boost following the application of traditional reflectometry techniques to the quantum tunneling behaviour of electrons.
Research from a joint Cornell University/Boston University team found that, by positioning a needle like probe above the surface being inspected by the STM and passing radio waves though the device, they could detect changes in resistance at the junction between the two, when quantum tunneling occurred from one to the other.
This allows the STM to measure minute distances very rapidly – potentially 30,000 times smaller than the diameter of an atom – and also to measure temperature changes within individual atoms. The results have major implications for nanoelectronics applications that require extremely fine tuning of materials.
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