Subatomic Features on the Silicon (111)-(7×7) Surface Observed by Atomic Force Microscopy

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Science  21 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5478, pp. 422-425
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5478.422

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The atomic force microscope images surfaces by sensing the forces between a sharp tip and a sample. If the tip-sample interaction is dominated by short-range forces due to the formation of covalent bonds, the image of an individual atom should reflect the angular symmetry of the interaction. Here, we report on a distinct substructure in the images of individual adatoms on silicon (111)-(7×7), two crescents with a spherical envelope. The crescents are interpreted as images of two atomic orbitals of the front atom of the tip. Key for the observation of these subatomic features is a force-detection scheme with superior noise performance and enhanced sensitivity to short-range forces.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: franz.giessibl{at}

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