Formation of Nanometer-Scale Grooves in Silicon with a Scanning Tunneling Microscope

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Science  19 Mar 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5102, pp. 1724-1726
DOI: 10.1126/science.259.5102.1724


Grooves a few nanometers wide can be formed on a Si(111) surface with a scanning tunneling microscope when the tip is above a critical voltage. This may provide a promising approach to nanodevice fabrication. The dependence of the critical voltage on tunneling current, tip polarity, and tip material was studied with silver, gold, platinum, and tungsten tips. The results are consistent with field emission of positive and negative silicon ions. The variation of critical voltage with current is explained quantitatively by a simple tunneling equation that includes the effect of the contact potential between tip and sample.