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Concept: Scanning probe microscopy


The nanoscale electrical properties of individual self-assembled GeSi quantum rings (QRs) were studied by scanning probe microscopy-based techniques. The surface potential distributions of individual GeSi QRs are obtained by scanning Kelvin microscopy (SKM). Ring-shaped work function distributions are observed, presenting that the QRs' rim has a larger work function than the QRs' central hole. By combining the SKM results with those obtained by conductive atomic force microscopy and scanning capacitance microscopy, the correlations between the surface potential, conductance, and carrier density distributions are revealed, and a possible interpretation for the QRs' conductance distributions is suggested.

Concepts: Electricity, Energy, Scanning tunneling microscope, Scanning probe microscopy, Kelvin probe force microscope, Scanning capacitance microscopy


Imaging temperature fields at the nanoscale is a central challenge in various areas of science and technology. Nanoscopic hotspots, such as those observed in integrated circuits or plasmonic nanostructures, can be used to modify the local properties of matter, govern physical processes, activate chemical reactions and trigger biological mechanisms in living organisms. The development of high-resolution thermometry techniques is essential for understanding local thermal non-equilibrium processes during the operation of numerous nanoscale devices. Here we present a technique to map temperature fields using a scanning thermal microscope. Our method permits the elimination of tip-sample contact-related artefacts, a major hurdle that so far has limited the use of scanning probe microscopy for nanoscale thermometry. We map local Peltier effects at the metal-semiconductor contacts to an indium arsenide nanowire and self-heating of a metal interconnect with 7 mK and sub-10 nm spatial temperature resolution.

Concepts: Biology, Chemical reaction, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Microscopy, Scanning probe microscopy, Photothermal microspectroscopy, Scanning thermal microscopy


Observing the intricate chemical transformation of an individual molecule as it undergoes a complex reaction is a longstanding challenge in molecular imaging. Advances in scanning probe microscopy now provide the tools to visualize not only the frontier orbitals of chemical reaction partners and products, but their internal covalent bond configurations as well. Here, we demonstrate the use of noncontact atomic force microscopy to investigate reaction-induced changes in the detailed internal bond structure of individual oligo-(phenylene-1,2-ethynylenes) on Ag(100) as they undergo a series of cyclization processes. Our images reveal the complex surface reaction mechanisms underlying thermally induced cyclization cascades of enediynes. Additional evidence for the proposed reaction pathways is obtained using ab initio density functional theory.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Chemistry, Atom, Chemical substance, Computational chemistry, Scanning probe microscopy


To dissect the astonishing complexity of the biomolecular machinery functioning within a cell, imaging has been an integral tool in biology, allowing researches to “view” the detailed molecular biology responsible for coordinating cellular life. To visualize the molecular components of cellular structures requires, in particular, imaging techniques capable of reaching nanoscale spatial resolutions. Such nanoimaging techniques are the focus of this volume. Chapters in the current volume are divided into four parts and include specialized techniques in the areas of light, electron, and scanning probe microscopy, as well as methodologies employing combinatorial and complementary imaging approaches.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Biology, Cell biology, Microscopy, Scanning tunneling microscope, Scanning probe microscopy, Biomolecule


The functionality of a variety of materials and devices is strongly coupled with electromechanical effects which can be used to characterize their functionality. Of high interest is the investigation of these electromechanical effects on the nanoscale which can be achieved by using scanning probe microscopy. Here, an electrical bias is applied locally to the scanning probe tip, and the mechanical sample response is detected. In some applications with electromechanical phenomena, such as energy storage or for biological samples, a liquid environment is required to provide full functionality and sample stability. However, electromechanical sample characterization has mostly been applied in air or under vacuum due to the difficulties of applying local electric fields in a conductive environment. Here, we present a detailed study of piezoresponse force microscopy of ferroelectric samples in liquid environments as a model system for electromechanical effects in general. The ionic strength of the liquid is varied, and possibilities and limitations of the technique are explored. Numerical simulations are used to explain the observed phenomena and used to suggest strategies to work in liquid environments with high ionic strength.

Concepts: Scientific method, Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Electricity, Microscopy, Scanning probe microscopy, Ionic strength, Kelvin probe force microscope


Investigating the structure of quantized plateaus in the Hall conductance of graphene is a powerful way of probing its crystalline and electronic structure and will also help to establish whether graphene can be used as a robust standard of resistance for quantum metrology. We use low-temperature scanning gate microscopy to image the interplateau breakdown of the quantum Hall effect in an exfoliated bilayer graphene flake. Scanning gate images captured during breakdown exhibit intricate patterns where the conductance is strongly affected by the presence of the scanning probe tip. The maximum density and intensity of the tip-induced conductance perturbations occur at half-integer filling factors, midway between consecutive quantum Hall plateau, while the intensity of individual sites shows a strong dependence on tip-voltage. Our results are well-described by a model based on quantum percolation which relates the points of high responsivity to tip-induced scattering in a network of saddle points separating localized states.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Graphene, Scanning probe microscopy, Hall effect, Electrical resistance, Quantum Hall effect, Quantum electronics, Quantization


The implementation of contact mode Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) utilizes the electrostatic interactions between tip and sample when the tip and sample are in contact with each other. Surprisingly, the electrostatic forces in contact are large enough to be measured even with tips as stiff as 4.5 N/m. As for traditional non-contact KPFM, the signal depends strongly on electrical properties of the sample, such as the dielectric constant, and the tip-properties, such as the stiffness. Since the tip is in contact with the sample, bias-induced changes in the junction potential between tip and sample can be measured with higher lateral and temporal resolution compared to traditional non-contact KPFM. Significant and reproducible variations of tip-surface capacitance are observed and attributed to surface electrochemical phenomena. Observations of significant surface charge states at zero bias and strong hysteretic electromechanical responses at non-ferroelectric surface have significant implications for fields such as triboelectricity and piezoresponse force microscopy.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Electricity, Fundamental physics concepts, Electrostatics, Scanning probe microscopy, Electric and magnetic fields in matter, Kelvin probe force microscope


The solution-phase self-assembly of bidentate 16-[3,5-bis(mercapto-methyl)phenoxy]hexadecanoic acid (BMPHA) on Au(111) was studied using nano-fabrication protocols with scanning probe nanolithography and immersion particle lithography. Molecularly thin films of BMPHA prepared by surface self-assembly have potential application as spatially selective layers in sensor designs. Either monolayer or bilayer films of BMPHA can be formed under ambient conditions, depending on the parameters of concentration and immersion intervals. Experiments with scanning probe-based lithography (nanoshaving and nanografting) were applied to measure the thickness of BMPHA films. The thickness of a monolayer and bilayer film of BMPHA on Au(111) were measured in situ with atomic force microscopy using n-octadecanethiol as an internal reference. Scanning probe-based nanofabrication provides a way to insert nanopatterns of a reference molecule of known dimensions within a matrix film of unknown thickness to enable a direct comparison of heights and surface morphology. Immersion particle lithography was used to prepare a periodic arrangement of nanoholes within films of BMPHA. The nanoholes could be backfilled by immersion in a SAM solution to produce nanodots of n-octadecanethiol surrounded by a film of BMPHA. Test platforms prepared by immersion particle lithography enables control of the dimensions of surface sites to construct supramolecular assemblies.

Concepts: Atom, Nanotechnology, Atomic force microscopy, Microscopy, Scanning tunneling microscope, Scanning probe microscopy, Kelvin probe force microscope, Photothermal microspectroscopy


At monolayer coverage, silicene on Ag(1 1 1) may present different structural phases depending on the growth conditions. At multilayer coverage, only one structural phase has been reported: the [Formula: see text] phase. However, no link between the structural arrangement of the monolayer and that of the multilayer has been addressed. In this paper, reporting experimental work based on low-energy electron diffraction and scanning tunneling microscopy, we focus on the structural aspects of a multilayer film of silicene. We demonstrate that it exhibits one structural arrangement, namely the [Formula: see text] form, but with different domain orientations resulting from the structural properties of the initial wetting monolayer.

Concepts: Electron, Electron microscope, Diffraction, Microscopy, Scanning tunneling microscope, Scanning probe microscopy, Electron beam lithography, Low-energy electron diffraction


Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS), a combination of Raman spectroscopy and scanning probe microscopy, is a powerful technique to detect the vibrational fingerprint of molecules at the nanometer scale. A metal nanoparticle at the apex of an AFM tip leads to a large enhancement of the electromagnetic field when illuminated with an appropriate wavelength, resulting in an increased Raman signal. A controlled positioning of individual nanoparticles at the tip would improve the reproducibility of the probes, but is quite demanding due to usually serial and labor-intensive approaches. In contrast to other commonly used submicron manipulation techniques, dielectrophoresis (DEP) allows a parallel and scalable production, and provides a novel approach towards reproducible and at the same time affordable TERS tips. We demonstrate the successful positioning of an individual plasmonic nanoparticle on a commercial AFM tip by DEP followed by experimental proof of the Raman signal enhancing capabilities of such tips. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Light, Surface plasmon resonance, Microscopy, Raman scattering, All rights reserved, Scanning probe microscopy, Copyright