Europhys. Lett.
Volume 48, Number 5, December 1999
Page(s) 554 - 560
Section Condensed matter: structure, mechanical and thermal properties
Published online 01 September 2002
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i1999-00519-4

Europhys. Lett, 48 (5), pp. 554-560 (1999)

Scanning tunneling microscopy artifact and real structure: Steps of Ag(110)

R. Koch 2, J. J. Schulz 1 and K. H. Rieder 1

1 Institut für Experimentalphysik, Freie Universität Berlin
Arnimallee 14, D-14195 Berlin, Germany
2 Paul-Drude-Institut für Festkörperelektronik
Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, D-10117 Berlin, Germany

(received 6 May 1999; accepted in final form 28 September 1999)

PACS. 68.35Bs - Surface structure and topography.
PACS. 61.16Ch - Scanning probe microscopy: scanning tunneling, atomic force, scanning optical, magnetic force, etc.
PACS. 02.70Lq - Monte Carlo and statistical methods.


In STM (scanning tunneling microscopy) images of Ag(110) the step edges usually appear to have fringes parallel to the fast scanning direction. However, straight $[1\overline{1}0]$ steps are stable at 300 K, which is revealed by the sharp edges observed in STM scans parallel to the steps, and gradually get rough at elevated temperatures. In combination with a realistic Monte Carlo model that for the first time simulates also the scanning process by introducing the STM tip in terms of a local disturbance of the diffusion, the details of the atomistic mechanisms of the fringe formation become clear. The fringes are an experimental artifact of the scanning tip, which in average pulls Ag atoms by one lattice distance out of otherwise straight steps. Comparison with our experiments reveals a tip/surface interaction energy of about 0.14 eV.


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