Ron Refenberger
find out more

Recent Publications

  > Browse recent publications

Search Engines and Directory:

-Search Physics:

-Search Purdue:

-Univ. Directory:
Restrict Search by Campus


My long-term research centers very broadly on the quantum transport of charge through interesting structures. As an undergraduate, I learned about the intricate nature of electron states in metals (specifically, Fermi surfaces) from J. Trivisonno. For my graduate work, I studied quantum interference of electron states in ultra-pure metals under the direction of R. W. Stark who was the best experimentalist I’ve ever come to know. In my PhD thesis, I studied the splitting, recombination, and quantum interference of electron states in a metal at low temperatures, drawing many analogies from the operation and function of the familiar Michelson Interferometer for light. I worked with M.J.G. Lee as a post-doc, learning the essentials of field emission and UHV techniques.

My early career at Purdue was a natural extension of my previous work. I studied quantum interference effects in semiconductors, most notably the diluted magnetic semiconductors that were under development at Purdue in the early 1980s. I also continued with field emission experiments, building a small group devoted to UHV surface physics.

In 1984, I first read reports of Binnig and Rohrer’s remarkable experiments on controllable tunneling gaps and scanning tunneling microscopes (STM). I was astounded by Rohrer’s remarkable talk at the March Meeting of the American Physical Society in 1985. After spending about 18 months to find some funds, the design and construction of our first STM instrument was completed roughly in August of 1986. The first images were obtained in December, 1986.

Since then, my research interests have largely centered on measuring the nanoscale properties of matter. We have built numerous STMs and scanning force microscopes (SFMs) to pursue this goal. We have studied current flow through small metallic clusters, through molecules, and through carbon nanotubes. Recently, we have been working with a number of biologists and bio-chemists to learn what (if any) advantages the structures that Nature self-assembles might offer for future nanoscale electronics.

You can learn more about the details of our work at