Contrast mechanism for resolving organic molecules with tunnelling microscopy

J. K. Spong, H. A. Mizes, L. J. LaComb, M. M. Dovek, J. E. Frommer, J. S. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

209 Scopus citations


THE scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) is now an established tool for the study of ordered metal and semiconductor surfaces on an atomic scale1,2. Here we demonstrate the ability of the STM to image a large class of organic molecular adsorbates with almost atomic resolution3. From the images it is apparent that not only is the STM resolving the individual molecules, but it is also distinguishing between the different functional groups within the molecules. We propose that the contrast mechanism responsible for the well resolved images is modulation of the local work function of the substrate by the polarizable molecular adsorbates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-139
Number of pages3
Issue number6211
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989
Externally publishedYes


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Cite this

Spong, J. K., Mizes, H. A., LaComb, L. J., Dovek, M. M., Frommer, J. E., & Foster, J. S. (1989). Contrast mechanism for resolving organic molecules with tunnelling microscopy. Nature, 338(6211), 137-139.