Surface Science: Foundations of Catalysis and Nanoscience

Chapter 2. Experimental Probes of Surface & Adsorbate Structure: Supplemental Material

The scanning tunnelling microscope or STM has lead to a revolution in surface. Indeed, it has ushered in the age of nanoscience and technology. Nonetheless this remarkable instrument is amazingly simple and you can even find instructions in how to build your own. However, it probably will be difficult to achieve atomic resolution on your kitchen table.

The STM was invented by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer who won the Physics Nobel Prize in 1986 for this achievement. You can learn more about Binning and Rohrer by visiting the Nobel Prive Archive. They shared the Nobel Prize with Ernst Ruscka, who designed the first  electron microscope. Two important types of electron microscope are the transmission electron microscope (TEM) and the scanning electron microscope (SEM). I don't talk much about TEM & SEM in the book but they are two of the most important tools for imagine on the micro- and nano-scales. You can find a great deal of information on TEM & SEM here.

Lots of STM image galleries exist. For instance, here's one from the Technische Universität Wien.

Here's another from RHK Technologies.

And, of course, IBM since they invented it and also scientist at IBM (Manoharan, Lutz & Eigler) produced one of the images that is on the cover of the textbook.

A more venerable technique of surface structure determination is low energy electron diffraction (LEED). Clinton J Davidson shared the 1937 Physics Nobel Prize with George P Thomson for demonstrating that the wavelike characteristics of the electron. Thomson was the son of late Sir J J. Thomson, who won his Nobel Prize for showing that the electron was a particle. Davidson and Germer are credited with discovering LEED.

Karl Manne Georg Siegbahn won the 1924 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discoveries and research in the field of X-ray spectroscopy. His son Kai developed X-ray spectroscopy further to create electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA), which is also known as the surface sensitive spectroscopy XPS. For this he won a share of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics. Afterward he visited the University of Pittsburgh and became the first Nobel Prize winner I ever met. It didn't make a big impression on him but it was a big deal to me at the time.

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