PerspectiveNanophotonics

Coherent scanning tunneling microscopy

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Science  24 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6476, pp. 368
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba0714

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Summary

The ultimate goal of any nanotechnology is to resolve and control elementary processes in matter. In general, although many spectroscopies can achieve high temporal resolution and many microscopies can achieve high spatial resolution, achieving both is difficult. On page 411 of this issue, Garg and Kern (1) improve the limits of concomitant spatial and temporal resolutions by combining scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) (2) with an ingenious phase-locking train of ultrafast optical pulses. The authors go on to demonstrate that their instrument can deconvolve femtosecond electron dynamics with nanoscale resolution. These feats are only made more interesting because the phase-locking scheme enables an imprint of the laser's (coherent) phase onto the tunneling electrons. This demonstration of “light-wave electronics” at atomic scales is unprecedented.

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