Purdue University
Reifenberger Nanophysics Lab
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Current Research-Field-ion Microscopy

The first images of atoms were achieved in the 1950’s by E. Mueller’s remarkable invention called a field-ion microscope (FIM). While limited to geometries possessing high radii of curvature, the FIM is still a useful tool for studying the properties and arrangements of atoms on sharp tips. We have used the FIM to study the position of atoms on the surface of nanometer-size clusters that are supported on electrochemically etched tips.

Elton Graugnard working on the Field-ion microscope chamber

A closely related technique is field emission microscopy. In a field emission experiment, a high electric field applied to a sharp metal tip distorts the surface potential barrier and allows electrons to quantum mechanically tunnel from the metal tip into the vacuum. A simple explanation of this quantum tunneling effect is given below.


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