Improving the resolving power of the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM)

STM image enhancement

Improvement of the STM image quality after averaging 528 images.

A common method to increase the signal to noise ratio of a data set is to take repeated measurements and average them. This is routinely performed for 2D spectra, where their alignment is straightforward. However, for images the nature and variety of the distortions can severely complicate accurate registration. The usual way to treat images from a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) is to take multiple images of the same area and select the one that appears to be of the highest quality whilst discarding the information contained in the other almost identical images. In this project a step change in the resolving power of the STM will be achieved through automated multi-frame averaging (MFA). Our work so far has shown that images with sub 1 pm height resolution can be routinely obtained. During the project a number of materials systems, including ultrathin oxide films and molecular networks, will be studied to demontrate the power of the technique. 

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