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Recent advances in submolecular resolution with scanning probe microscopy

An Erratum to this article was published on 23 May 2011

This article has been updated

Abstract

Recently scanning probe microscopy has made tremendous progress in imaging organic molecules with high lateral resolution. Atoms and bonds within individual molecules have been clearly resolved, indicating the exciting potential of this technique for studying molecular structures, bonding within and between molecules, molecular conformational changes and chemical reactions at the single-molecule level. It turns out that the key step enabling such studies is an atomically controlled functionalization of the microscope tip. In this Perspective, the different techniques used for high-resolution molecular imaging, their implementations, advantages and limitations are described, and possible scientific areas of applications are discussed.

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Figure 1: Molecules imaged with atomic resolution using NC-AFM.
Figure 2: PTCDA monolayer imaged with STHM.
Figure 3: Pentacene imaged with STM and NC-AFM.
Figure 4: Measuring reaction rates with submolecular resolution.
Figure 5: NC-AFM with chemical sensitivity.

Change history

  • 08 April 2011

    In the version of this Perspective originally published, the arrows in Fig. 5b were too short. This has now been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions.

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Acknowledgements

I thank F. Mohn, N. Moll, G. Meyer, M. Jaspars, O. Custance and R. Allenspach for comments and discussions.

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Correspondence to Leo Gross.

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Gross, L. Recent advances in submolecular resolution with scanning probe microscopy. Nature Chem 3, 273–278 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1008

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