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Heisenberg, uncertainty, and the scanning tunneling microscope

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Werner A. Hofer.

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Hofer, W.A. Heisenberg, uncertainty, and the scanning tunneling microscope. Front. Phys. 7, 218–222 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11467-012-0246-z

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Keywords

  • scanning tunneling microscope
  • electron charge
  • density functional theory
  • uncertainty relations