Magnification Effects in Scanning Tunneling Microscopy: the Role of Surface Radicals
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Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) is a fundamental tool for determination of the surface atomic structure. However, the interpretation of high resolution microscopy images is not straightforward. In this paper we provide a physical insight on how STM images can suggest atomic locations which are distinctively different from the real ones. This effect should be taken into account when interpreting high-resolution STM images obtained on surfaces with directional bonds. It is shown that spurious images are formed in the presence of polarized surface radicals showing a pronounced angle with respect to the surface normal. This issue has been overlooked within the surface science community and often disregarded by experimentalists working with STM. Without loss of generality, we illustrate this effect by the magnification observed for pentamer-like structures on (110), (113), and (331) surfaces of silicon and germanium.