Definition of scanning tunnelling microscope in English:

scanning tunnelling microscope

(also STM)


  • A high-resolution microscope using neither light nor an electron beam, but with an ultra-fine tip able to reveal atomic and molecular details of surfaces.

    • ‘In a scanning tunnelling microscope, a sharp metallic tip is brought within a nanometre or two of the surface of the sample.’
    • ‘Researchers have long been able to pick up and drop individual atoms using the tips of scanning tunnelling microscopes.’
    • ‘In rapid succession the field ion microscope and the scanning tunnelling microscope soon joined these microscopes.’
    • ‘Using the superfine tungsten tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope, they plucked out single hydrogen atoms where they wanted the qubits to be.’
    • ‘Manipulating the rotor with the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope can induce rotation and the system does not seem to suffer any wear and tear as the molecule rotates.’