Progress in Surface Science

Recent progress in probing atomic and molecular quantum coherence with scanning tunneling microscopy

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Quantum coherent physics and chemistry concern the creation and manipulation of an excited-state manifold that contains the superposition and entanglement of multiple quantum levels. Electromagnetic waves such as light and microwave can be used to generate and probe different quantum coherent phenomena. The recent advances in scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) techniques including ultrafast laser coupled STM and electron spin resonance STM combine electromagnetic excitation with tunneling electron detection, bringing the investigation of quantum coherence down to the atomic and molecular level. Here, we survey the latest STM studies of different quantum coherent phenomena covering molecular vibration, electron transfer, surface plasmon resonance, phonon, spin oscillation, and electronic transition, and discuss the state and promise of characterizing and manipulating quantum coherence at the atomic or molecular scale.