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Journal Articles Scientific Reports Year : 2022

Field emission microscope for a single fullerene molecule


Abstract Applying strong direct current (DC) electric fields on the apex of a sharp metallic tip, electrons can be radially emitted from the apex to vacuum. Subsequently, they magnify the nanoscopic information on the apex, which serves as a field emission microscope (FEM). When depositing molecules on such a tip, peculiar electron emission patterns such as clover leaves appear. These phenomena were first observed seventy years ago. However, the source of these emission patterns has not yet been identified owing to the limited experimental information about molecular configurations on a tip. Here, we used fullerene molecules and characterized the molecule-covered tip by an FEM. In addition to the experiments, simulations were performed to obtain optimized molecular configurations on a tip. Both results indicate that the molecules, the source of the peculiar emission patterns, appear on a molecule layer formed on the tip under strong DC electric fields. Furthermore, the simulations revealed that these molecules are mostly isolated single molecules forming single-molecule-terminated protrusions. Upon the excellent agreements in both results, we concluded that each emission pattern originates from a single molecule. Our work should pave the way to revive old-fashioned electron microscopy as a powerful tool for investigating a single molecule.

Dates and versions

cea-04076256 , version 1 (20-04-2023)



Hirofumi Yanagisawa, Markus Bohn, Florian Goschin, Ari Paavo Seitsonen, Matthias Kling. Field emission microscope for a single fullerene molecule. Scientific Reports, 2022, 12 (1), pp.2714. ⟨10.1038/s41598-022-06670-1⟩. ⟨cea-04076256⟩


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