Toward Ultrafast Movies of Moving Atoms

By combining ultrashort laser pulses techniques with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), we have developed an instrument that obtains simultaneous 2 psec time resolution and 50 Å spatial resolution. This is a nine orders of magnitude improvement over the time resolution previously attainable with STM. We have used this instrument to measure the response of the tunneling gap to excitation by a subpicosecond electrical pulse. Our technique is not limited to STM, and can be implemented in a variety of scanning probe microscopies, allowing the observation of ultrafast dynamics on the atomic scale.

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