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Imaging Phonon Excitation with Atomic Resolution

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Science  15 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5865, pp. 930-933
DOI: 10.1126/science.1152473

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Abstract

Inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy at low temperatures was used to investigate vibrations of Au(111) and Cu(111). The low-energy peaks at 9 millielectron volts (meV) on Au(111) and 21 meV on Cu(111) are attributed to phonons at surfaces. On Au(111), the phonon energy is not influenced by the different stacking of the surface atoms, but it is considerably influenced by different atomic distances within the surface layer. The spatial variation of the phonon excitation is measured in inelastic electron tunneling maps on Au(111), which display atomic resolution. This atomic resolution is explained in terms of site-specific phonon excitation probabilities.

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