The controlled manipulation of silicon at the nanometer scale will facilitate the fabrication of new types of electronic devices. The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) can be used to manipulate strongly bound silicon atoms or clusters at room temperature. Specifically, by using a combination of electrostatic and chemical forces, surface atoms can be removed and deposited on the STM tip. The tip can then move to a predetermined surface site, and the atom or cluster can be redeposited. The magnitude of such forces and the amount of material removed can be controlled by applying voltage pulses at different tip-surface separations.