Probing Single Nanometer-scale Particles with Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and Spectroscopies
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Scanning tunneling microscopy can be used to isolate single particles on surfaces for further study. Local optical and electronic properties coupled with topographic information collected by the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) give insight into the intrinsic properties of the species under study. Since each spectroscopic measurement is done on a single particle, each sample is ‘monodisperse’, regardless of the degree of heterogeneity of the original preparation. We illustrate this with three example systems – a metal cluster of known atomic structure, metal nanoparticles dispersed from colloid suspensions, and metallocarbohedrenes (Met-Cars) deposited with other reaction products. Au and Ag nanoparticles were imaged using a photon emission STM. The threshold voltage, the lowest bias voltage at which photons are produced, was determined for Au nanoparticles. Electronic spectra of small clusters of Ni atoms on MoS2 were recorded. Preliminary images of Zr-based Met-Car-containing soot were obtained on Au and MoS2 substrates and partial electronic spectra were recorded of these possible Met-Car particles.
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