scanning tunneling microscope

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scanning tunneling microscope

n.
A microscope that scans the surface of a sample with a beam of electrons, causing a narrow channel of tunneling electrons to flow between the sample and the beam, and producing three-dimensional images of atomic topography and structure.

scan′ning tun′neling mi`croscope


n.
an electronic microscope that produces images of atomic structures by moving an extremely fine probe over the surface of a material.
Abbr: STM
[1980–85]

scanning tunneling microscope

A microscope used to make images of individual atoms on the surface of a material. The microscope has a probe ending in a tiny sharp tip that moves along the material's surface while emitting a stream of electrons. The flow of electrons is constant so long as the distance between the tip and the material's surface atoms is held constant. An image is formed based on the continual adjustments made to the height of the tip to keep the electron flow constant over the "bumps" that are the atoms.