Design and operation of a variable temperature scanning tunnelling microscope

J. W. Lyding, S. Skala, J. S. Hubacek, R. Brockenbrough, G. Gammie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new variable temperature STM has been developed which utilizes two concentric piezoelectric tubes; an inner scanning tube, and an outer thermal compensation tube which also provides for inertial translation of the sample into tunnelling range. With this design, continuously variable temperature operation is demonstrated for the first time in an STM. Also, by eliminating all mechanical components such as springs, levers and gears, which normally couple directly to the tunnelling gap in other designs, atomic resolution operation is demonstrated in which no vibration isolation is necessary. During operation, the inside of the scanning tube is maintained at ground potential while the feedback signal is electronically summed to the scanning voltages applied to the outer quadrants. In addition to shielding the sensitive tunnelling circuit, this mode of operation enables one to electronically balance out mechanical imperfections of the scanning tube. To date, this new STM has been operated over the 77–400 K temperature range with the observed thermal drift as low as 1 Å/h and 10 Å/K. Another useful feature of this new design is the ability to reposition a sample to within 200 Å of the same location after it has been translated macroscopic distances (several mm) out of tunnelling range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-378
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988


  • STM design
  • high stability STM
  • variable temperature STM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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