A Vertical Coarse Approach Scanning Tunneling Microscope

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Drevniok, Benedict
Physics , Condensed Matter , Scanning Probe Microscopy , Scanning tunneling microscopy
A Pan-style scanning tunneling microscope (STM), with a vertical coarse approach mechanism, was designed, built and tested. The microscope will be operated in ultra-high vacuum and also at cryogenic temperatures (8 K) inside a continuous flow cryostat. Fundamental differences in operating principle exist between the new microscope and the beetle-type inertial sliders [1] that have been the mainstay of the group for the last eight years. While Pan-style microscopes do already exist [2], they remain challenging to build, and an active area of research [3]. This system represents a bold departure from well-trodden paths, and will greatly expand the range of experiments that our group can perform. The operating principles of inertial piezoelectric motors are detailed. Design guidelines for a piezoelectric motor are given, and used in the design of the vertical coarse approach motor. A simple, inexpensive implementation for creating waveforms with an extremely fast fall time is discussed. Motor performance is tested, and a minimum step size of 20nm is found for frequencies ranging from 0 Hz to 3 kHz. The motor operates with high dynamic range: individual 20nm steps can be taken, as well as being able to move at a velocity of 0.4mm s−1. Little is known about the vibrational properties of Pan-style microscopes. Vibrational testing of the microscope revealed the expected scanner bending mode at 1.6 kHz (above the scanner bending mode of our beetles at 1.2 kHz), and a complicated response signal above this frequency. Custom extension springs for an eddy-current damping system are built and tested. A low resonant frequency of 1.8 Hz is found, which is ideal for the application. Initial testing of the STM in ambient conditions is performed on two different surfaces. A moir´e supermesh [4] with periodicity 3nm is observed on a highly-oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) surface, and agrees well with previously published results. Using a flame-annealed Gold on mica surface, a low drift rate of 0.6nm s−1 is observed over a period of 13 minutes. Single-height atomic steps are observed on both surfaces. Additionally, the microscope is shown to be capable of zooming into different features on a surface, and scanning at different length scales.
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