Surface Imaging

Submolecular resolution in 3D

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Science  10 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6231, pp. 197-198
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6231.197-f

Surface probe microscopy has recently achieved submolecular resolution with metal tips made atomically sharp by decorating them with adsorbed molecules such as carbon monoxide. This method works well with adsorbed molecules that are small or flat. Moreno et al. now show how to achieve subatomic resolution in atomic force microscopy with commercial silicon tips, for three-dimensional structures such as absorbed fullerene molecules or the step edges of oxide surfaces. The van der Waals interaction is mapped with the tip a few nanometers above the surface in a closed feedback loop. A second higher-resolution scan with an open feedback loop follows this map with a constant offset distance that is adjusted to provide high resolution.

Nano Lett. 10.1021/nl504182w (2015).

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