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1.  Surface science at the PEARL beamline of the Swiss Light Source 
Journal of Synchrotron Radiation  2017;24(Pt 1):354-366.
The Photo-Emission and Atomic Resolution Laboratory is a new soft X-ray beamline at the Swiss Light Source for the study of surface structure using photoelectron diffraction and scanning tunneling microscopy.
The Photo-Emission and Atomic Resolution Laboratory (PEARL) is a new soft X-ray beamline and surface science laboratory at the Swiss Light Source. PEARL is dedicated to the structural characterization of local bonding geometry at surfaces and interfaces of novel materials, in particular of molecular adsorbates, nanostructured surfaces, and surfaces of complex materials. The main experimental techniques are soft X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, photoelectron diffraction, and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). Photoelectron diffraction in angle-scanned mode measures bonding angles of atoms near the emitter atom, and thus allows the orientation of small molecules on a substrate to be determined. In energy scanned mode it measures the distance between the emitter and neighboring atoms; for example, between adsorbate and substrate. STM provides complementary, real-space information, and is particularly useful for comparing the sample quality with reference measurements. In this article, the key features and measured performance data of the beamline and the experimental station are presented. As scientific examples, the adsorbate–substrate distance in hexagonal boron nitride on Ni(111), surface quantum well states in a metal-organic network of dicyano-anthracene on Cu(111), and circular dichroism in the photoelectron diffraction of Cu(111) are discussed.
PMCID: PMC5182030  PMID: 28009578
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy; X-ray photoelectron diffraction; scanning tunneling microscopy
2.  Advanced atomic force microscopy techniques III 
PMCID: PMC4979673  PMID: 27547623
atomic force microscopy
3.  Large area scanning probe microscope in ultra-high vacuum demonstrated for electrostatic force measurements on high-voltage devices 
Background: The resolution in electrostatic force microscopy (EFM), a descendant of atomic force microscopy (AFM), has reached nanometre dimensions, necessary to investigate integrated circuits in modern electronic devices. However, the characterization of conducting or semiconducting power devices with EFM methods requires an accurate and reliable technique from the nanometre up to the micrometre scale. For high force sensitivity it is indispensable to operate the microscope under high to ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions to suppress viscous damping of the sensor. Furthermore, UHV environment allows for the analysis of clean surfaces under controlled environmental conditions. Because of these requirements we built a large area scanning probe microscope operating under UHV conditions at room temperature allowing to perform various electrical measurements, such as Kelvin probe force microscopy, scanning capacitance force microscopy, scanning spreading resistance microscopy, and also electrostatic force microscopy at higher harmonics. The instrument incorporates beside a standard beam deflection detection system a closed loop scanner with a scan range of 100 μm in lateral and 25 μm in vertical direction as well as an additional fibre optics. This enables the illumination of the tip–sample interface for optically excited measurements such as local surface photo voltage detection.
Results: We present Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) measurements before and after sputtering of a copper alloy with chromium grains used as electrical contact surface in ultra-high power switches. In addition, we discuss KPFM measurements on cross sections of cleaved silicon carbide structures: a calibration layer sample and a power rectifier. To demonstrate the benefit of surface photo voltage measurements, we analysed the contact potential difference of a silicon carbide p/n-junction under illumination.
PMCID: PMC4734346  PMID: 26885461
copper alloy; electrostatic force microscopy; high-voltage device; Kelvin probe force microscopy; silicon carbide (SiC); surface photo voltage
4.  Electrospray deposition of organic molecules on bulk insulator surfaces 
Large organic molecules are of important interest for organic-based devices such as hybrid photovoltaics or molecular electronics. Knowing their adsorption geometries and electronic structures allows to design and predict macroscopic device properties. Fundamental investigations in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) are thus mandatory to analyze and engineer processes in this prospects. With increasing size, complexity or chemical reactivity, depositing molecules by thermal evaporation becomes challenging. A recent way to deposit molecules in clean conditions is Electrospray Ionization (ESI). ESI keeps the possibility to work with large molecules, to introduce them in vacuum, and to deposit them on a large variety of surfaces. Here, ESI has been successfully applied to deposit triply fused porphyrin molecules on an insulating KBr(001) surface in UHV environment. Different deposition coverages have been obtained and characterization of the surface by in-situ atomic force microscopy working in the non-contact mode shows details of the molecular structures adsorbed on the surface. We show that UHV-ESI, can be performed on insulating surfaces in the sub-monolayer regime and to single molecules which opens the possibility to study a variety of complex molecules.
PMCID: PMC4660929  PMID: 26665062
adsorption; electrospray; insulating surface; large molecules; non-contact AFM; ultra-high vacuum (UHV)
5.  Chain-like structure elements in Ni40Ta60 metallic glasses observed by scanning tunneling microscopy 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:13143.
The structure of metallic glasses is a long-standing question because the lack of long-range order makes diffraction based techniques difficult to be applied. Here, we used scanning tunneling microscopy with large tunneling resistance of 6 GΩ at low temperature in order to minimize forces between probe and sample and reduce thermal fluctuations of metastable structures. Under these extremely gentle conditions, atomic structures of Ni40Ta60 metallic glasses are revealed with unprecedented lateral resolution. In agreement with previous models and experiments, icosahedral-like clusters are observed. The clusters show a high degree of mobility, which explains the need of low temperatures for stable imaging. In addition to icosahedrons, chain-like structures are resolved and comparative density functional theory (DFT) calculations confirm that these structures are meta-stable. The co-existence of icosahedral and chain-like structures might be an key ingredient for the understanding of the mechanical properties of metallic glasses.
PMCID: PMC4542518  PMID: 26268430
6.  Transformations of PTCDA structures on rutile TiO2 induced by thermal annealing and intermolecular forces 
Transformations of molecular structures formed by perylene-3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic dianhydride (PTCDA) molecules on a rutile TiO2(110) surface are studied with low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscopy. We demonstrate that metastable molecular assemblies transform into differently ordered structures either due to additional energy provided by thermal annealing or when the influence of intermolecular forces is increased by the enlarged amount of deposited molecules. Proper adjustment of molecular coverage and substrate temperature during deposition allows for fabrication of desired assemblies. Differences between PTCDA/TiO2(110) and PTCDA/TiO2(011) systems obtained through identical experimental procedures are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4505301  PMID: 26199854
PTCDA, TiO2, rutile, self-assembly, STM
7.  Advanced atomic force microscopy techniques II 
PMCID: PMC4273268  PMID: 25551060
8.  Kelvin probe force microscopy of nanocrystalline TiO2 photoelectrodes 
Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) provide a promising third-generation photovoltaic concept based on the spectral sensitization of a wide-bandgap metal oxide. Although the nanocrystalline TiO2 photoelectrode of a DSC consists of sintered nanoparticles, there are few studies on the nanoscale properties. We focus on the microscopic work function and surface photovoltage (SPV) determination of TiO2 photoelectrodes using Kelvin probe force microscopy in combination with a tunable illumination system. A comparison of the surface potentials for TiO2 photoelectrodes sensitized with two different dyes, i.e., the standard dye N719 and a copper(I) bis(imine) complex, reveals an inverse orientation of the surface dipole. A higher surface potential was determined for an N719 photoelectrode. The surface potential increase due to the surface dipole correlates with a higher DSC performance. Concluding from this, microscopic surface potential variations, attributed to the complex nanostructure of the photoelectrode, influence the DSC performance. For both bare and sensitized TiO2 photoelectrodes, the measurements reveal microscopic inhomogeneities of more than 100 mV in the work function and show recombination time differences at different locations. The bandgap of 3.2 eV, determined by SPV spectroscopy, remained constant throughout the TiO2 layer. The effect of the built-in potential on the DSC performance at the TiO2/SnO2:F interface, investigated on a nanometer scale by KPFM measurements under visible light illumination, has not been resolved so far.
PMCID: PMC3701424  PMID: 23844348
atomic force microscopy (AFM); dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC); Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM); surface photovoltage (SPV); titanium dioxide (TiO2)
9.  Advanced atomic force microscopy techniques 
PMCID: PMC3554267  PMID: 23365802
atomic force microscopy
10.  The role of the cantilever in Kelvin probe force microscopy measurements 
The role of the cantilever in quantitative Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) is rigorously analyzed. We use the boundary element method to calculate the point spread function of the measuring probe: Tip and cantilever. The calculations show that the cantilever has a very strong effect on the absolute value of the measured contact potential difference even under ultra-high vacuum conditions, and we demonstrate a good agreement between our model and KPFM measurements in ultra-high vacuum of NaCl monolayers grown on Cu(111). The effect of the oscillating cantilever shape on the KPFM resolution and sensitivity has been calculated and found to be relatively small.
PMCID: PMC3148059  PMID: 21977437
boundary elements method; cantilever; convolution; Kelvin probe force microscopy; point spread function
11.  Oriented growth of porphyrin-based molecular wires on ionic crystals analysed by nc-AFM 
The growth of molecular assemblies at room temperature on insulating surfaces is one of the main goals in the field of molecular electronics. Recently, the directed growth of porphyrin-based molecular wires on KBr(001) was presented. The molecule–surface interaction associated with a strong dipole moment of the molecules was sufficient to bind them to the surface; while a stabilization of the molecular assemblies was reached due to the intermolecular interaction by π–π binding. Here, we show that the atomic structure of the substrate can control the direction of the wires and consequently, complex molecular assemblies can be formed. The electronic decoupling of the molecules by one or two monolayers of KBr from the Cu(111) substrate is found to be insufficient to enable comparable growth conditions to bulk ionic materials.
PMCID: PMC3045942  PMID: 21977413
directed growth; KBr; molecular wires; NaCl; nc-AFM; porphyrin; self assembly

Results 1-11 (11)