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Seeing Atoms: Building, Buying and Using Scanning Tunneling Microscopes


Seeing Atoms: Building. Buying and Using Scanning Tunneling Microscopes
Arranged by: Bernard J. Bulkin and Donald A. Chernoff, Standard Oil Research and Development

The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) is one of the most dramatic innovations in analytical instrumentation of this decade. For the first time, atomic level resolution is possible. even for relatively light atoms such as carbon. Moreover, unlike electron microscopes. the scanning tunneling microscope does not need to operate in high vacuum. The possibility of studying atoms on surfaces under real world atmospheres is thus opened up, offering great potential for such fields as catalysis. Beyond this, published work has already shown that the STM can even be operated on electrode surfaces under aqueous solutions. Thus the full range of chemical environments for surfaces is now available. or potentially available, for atomic level spatial resolution. The STM inventors shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986.

This symposium will deal with both a review of STM principles as well as with applications. Beyond this, the symposium will present some of the latest research results on aspects of tunneling microscopy. These results will show how the technique is being applied in industry and universities, as well as indicate the potential of STM as a spectroscopic technique.

In the opening paper, Donald Chernoff of Standard Oil will review the background of STM. show some of the initial applications in industry, and present results from selected applications at Standard Oil. This paper will provide necessary background for those who may not be familiar with the technique. ["Principles of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and Selected Applications at BP America (Standard Oil)"]

Robert Hamers of IBM will then describe results of studying the spectroscopy of individual atoms on surfaces using the STM. This is made possible because there are different modes in which the microscope can be run. yielding either topographic or spectroscopic information. ["Spectroscopy of Individual Atoms with the Scanning Tunneling Microscope"]

Stuart Lindsay of Arizona State will describe results on biopolymers in aqueous environments. As mentioned earlier. the ability to image films in aqueous environments is a major advantage of the STM. This opens up many molecular level studies of areas such as biopolymer membranes. ["Scanning Tunneling Microscopy of Biopolymers in the Aqueous Environment"]

The atomic force microscope is another variant of the STM. Othmar Marti of the University of California - Santa Barbara will describe this development. which many feel is an important direction for the instrumentation. ["Probing Surfaces with the Atomic Force Microscope"]

Finally, Virgil Elings of the University of California - Santa Barbara and Digital Instruments Company will discuss the availability and design considerations in commercial instruments. While most of the initial STM's were homemade, commercial instruments have begun to appear. They vary widely in design. capability. and price. ["New Directions in Commercial Scanning Tunneling Microscopes"]

The STM represents a major breakthrough in chemical and materials science instrumentation. Its impact will be both deep and wide. extending to polymers, biological systems. ceramics, catalysts, and electronic devices. As the technique develops into both surface imaging and surface spectroscopy, it is sure to impact many areas of the instrument business as well. This symposium. including as it does speakers at the forefront of developments in both instrumentation and applications. should be of interest to a broad spectrum of Pittsburgh Conference attendees.

Update: Where are they now (1998)?

Bernie Bulkin is the Chair of the UK Office for Renewable Energy Deployment, the office tasked with the responsibility of ensuring UK compliance with renewable energy targets. (See a 48 minute talk)
He is a senior advisor at Vantage Point Capital Partners.

Don Chernoff is with Advanced Surface Microscopy in Indianapolis, IN

Robert Hamers is Arthur Adamson Professor of Chemistry at University of Wisconsin.

Othmar Marti is a Professor in the Institute for Experimental Physics at University of Ulm, Germany.

Virgil Elings owns the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum.


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