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 01.03.2007   Карта сайта     Language По-русски По-английски
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01.03.2007

Nature 446, 64-67 (1 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05530; Received 12 August 2006; Accepted 4 December 2006


Chemical identification of individual surface atoms by atomic force microscopy


Yoshiaki Sugimoto1, Pablo Pou2, Masayuki Abe1,3, Pavel Jelinek4, Rubén Pérez2, Seizo Morita1 and Óscar Custance1



  1. Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, 2-1 Yamada-Oka, 565-0871 Suita, Osaka, Japan
  2. Departamento de Física Teórica de la Materia Condensada, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
  3. PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Saitama 332-0012, Japan
  4. Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Cukrovarnická 10, 1862 53, Prague, Czech Republic


Correspondence to: Óscar Custance1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to O.C. (Email: oscar@afm.eei.eng.osaka-u.ac.jp).





Scanning probe microscopy is a versatile and powerful method that uses sharp tips to image, measure and manipulate matter at surfaces with atomic resolution1, 2. At cryogenic temperatures, scanning probe microscopy can even provide electron tunnelling spectra that serve as fingerprints of the vibrational properties of adsorbed molecules3, 4, 5 and of the electronic properties of magnetic impurity atoms6, 7, thereby allowing chemical identification. But in many instances, and particularly for insulating systems, determining the exact chemical composition of surfaces or nanostructures remains a considerable challenge. In principle, dynamic force microscopy should make it possible to overcome this problem: it can image insulator, semiconductor and metal surfaces with true atomic resolution8, 9, 10, by detecting and precisely measuring11, 12, 13 the short-range forces that arise with the onset of chemical bonding between the tip and surface atoms14, 15 and that depend sensitively on the chemical identity of the atoms involved. Here we report precise measurements of such short-range chemical forces, and show that their dependence on the force microscope tip used can be overcome through a normalization procedure. This allows us to use the chemical force measurements as the basis for atomic recognition, even at room temperature. We illustrate the performance of this approach by imaging the surface of a particularly challenging alloy system and successfully identifying the three constituent atomic species silicon, tin and lead, even though these exhibit very similar chemical properties and identical surface position preferences that render any discrimination attempt based on topographic measurements impossible.



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  • Chen Wev .  honorary member of ISSC science council

  • Harton Vladislav Vadim  honorary member of ISSC science council

  • Lichtenstain Alexandr Iosif  honorary member of ISSC science council

  • Novikov Dimirtii Leonid  honorary member of ISSC science council

  • Yakushev Mikhail Vasilii  honorary member of ISSC science council

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