Zettl Research Group

Research Project



The Zettl Group has built a state-of-the-art atomic resolution microscope.  This microscope will aid in the characterization of new materials and provide insights into nanoscale electronic elements.  Using this instrument, it is possible to immediately characterize novel purified nanomaterials synthesized in our laboratory.   



A Scanning Tunneling Microscope is a non-optical apparatus which directly measures electronic states. With precision control, the microscope can obtain atomic resolution by imaging the states of individual atoms. On a surface, the microscope is also sensitive to localized defect states and quantum confined states.

Placing the microscope into an Ultra High Vacuum environment allows for controlled surface preparation. Operation in air or other "dirty" environments complicates the interpretation of atom-sized features. In a clean environment, however, both the surface and the atoms placed upon it can be carefully controlled.

Operation at Cryogenic Temperatures reduces electronic noise and eliminates some smearing between separate energy levels. At small enough temperatures, these different levels can be independently probed.

In addition, low temperatures freeze adsobed atoms and molecules in place on a surface. Using the microscope tip, Atomic Manipulation can move the otherwise frozen adsorbates. If stable over long periods of time, unique structures may be built up on an atom-by-atom basis.

By applying a Magnetic Field and rotating the samples within the field, additional effects may be studied. Some energy levels will be split into multiple levels in a strong field, in which case the STM may observe spin polarized states. Other systems, such as superconductors and ferromagnets, have more complicated behaviors in magnetic fields.  


The Low-Temperature UHV STM has been designed for the purpose of assembling and characterizing nanoscale materials with interesting electronic behaviors. The following is a brief list of the types of research possible with such an instrument.




Experimental Results

Bundle of carbon nanotubes

[Image by Low temperature UHVSTM]



Au (111) 

[Image by Low temperature UHVSTM]


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