Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena

Vibrational heating and atom transfer with the STM

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The high current density of the STM can result in substantial vibrational heating via inelastic electron tunneling. Under certain conditions, the vibrational distribution at a given current-density is approximately Maxwell-Boltzmann, with a characteristic temperature that reflects a balance between excitation by the tunneling electrons and relaxation processes. A simple expression is given for the steady-state vibrational temperature in the presence of tunneling current. Calculations indicate that vibrational heating by inelastic tunneling plays an important role in the transfer of Xe atoms between sample and tip surfaces. Directionality of Xe atom-transfer, and applications to other systems are discussed. © 1993.