Frontiers of Physics

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 218–222 | Cite as

Heisenberg, uncertainty, and the scanning tunneling microscope

  • Werner A. Hofer


We show by a statistical analysis of high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) experiments, that the interpretation of the density of electron charge as a statistical quantity leads to a conflict with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Given the precision in these experiments we find that the uncertainty principle would be violated by close to two orders of magnitude, if this interpretation were correct. We are thus forced to conclude that the density of electron charge is a physically real, i.e., in principle precisely measurable quantity.


scanning tunneling microscope electron charge density functional theory uncertainty relations 


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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