CIRP Encyclopedia of Production Engineering

2019 Edition
| Editors: Sami Chatti, Luc Laperrière, Gunther Reinhart, Tullio Tolio

Scanning Tunneling Microscope

  • Fengzhou FangEmail author
  • Bingfeng JuEmail author
Reference work entry



Scanning tunneling microscope (STM) is an instrument for imaging conductive solid surfaces with an atomic resolution based on the concept of quantum tunneling.

Theory and Application


STM was originally developed in 1981 by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer (Binnig and Rohrer 1982), who were awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics for this great invention. Over the years, the STM has been proved to be an extremely versatile and powerful technique for many disciplines in material science (Yao and Wang 2004), precision engineering (Weckenmann and Hoffmann 2007; Hansen et al. 2006), physics, biology, and so on (Gao 2010).

The STM can be used not only in ultrahigh vacuum but also in ambient of air, water, liquid, or gas and at temperatures ranging from near-zero Kelvin to a few hundred degrees Celsius. Apart from surface topograph imaging, since the quantum tunneling also depends on the chemical nature of sample and tip, the STM...

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Copyright information

© CIRP 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The State Key Laboratory of Precision Measuring Technology and Instruments, Centre of MicroNano Manufacturing TechnologyTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Centre of MicroNano Manufacturing Technology (MNMT-Dublin)University College DublinDublinIreland
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina