Molecular Light Emission Induced by Inelastic Electron Tunneling

Science  24 Dec 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5142, pp. 2012-2014
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5142.2012


Light emission from molecular layers has been induced by inelastically tunneling electrons in a tunneling junction. The fast quenching of molecular emission on metal surfaces was suppressed by use of the "transparent conductor" indium-tin-oxide for the junction electrodes. The emission measurements have been made in squeezable tunneling junctions as small as 10–9 square centimeters, coated with 9-10 dichloro-anthracene layers. At a bias of 2.5 to 3.5 volts, yields of 5000 photons per microcoulomb were observed. Evidence for the molecular origin of the emission is given. This method shows good prospects for use in the imaging of chromophores on surfaces with atomic resolution.