The Scanning Tunneling Microscope allows to measure the topography of metals, the position of their atoms, and the electron characteristics in the metal.

A metallic tip is positioned very close to the surface of the metal. A voltage applied between the tip and the surface creates a tunneling current. By varying the tip position or the voltage, one can obtain information’s about the topography or the physical characteristics of the metal surface.

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Scanning tunneling microscope used for the observation of thin films.
(H. Raguet, Photothèque CNRS)