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Journal Article

Atomically resolved scanning force studies of vicinal Si(111)


Wippermann,  Stefan Martin
Atomistic Modelling, Interface Chemistry and Surface Engineering, Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, Max Planck Society;

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Pérez León, C., Drees, H., Wippermann, S. M., Marz, M., & Hoffmann-Vogel, R. (2017). Atomically resolved scanning force studies of vicinal Si(111). Physical Review B, 95(24): 245412. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.95.245412.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-C64D-4
Well-ordered stepped semiconductor surfaces attract intense attention owing to the regular arrangements of their atomic steps that makes them perfect templates for the growth of one-dimensional systems, e.g., nanowires. Here, we report on the atomic structure of the vicinal Si(111) surface with 10 degrees miscut investigated by a joint frequency-modulation scanning force microscopy (FM-SFM) and ab initio approach. This popular stepped surface contains 7 x 7-reconstructed terraces oriented along the Si(111) direction, separated by a stepped region. Recently, the atomic structure of this triple step based on scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) images has been subject of debate. Unlike STM, SFM atomic resolution capability arises from chemical bonding of the tip apex with the surface atoms. Thus, for surfaces with a corrugated density of states such as semiconductors, SFM provides complementary information to STM and partially removes the dependency of the topography on the electronic structure. Our FM-SFM images with unprecedented spatial resolution on steps coincide with the model based on a (7 7 10) orientation of the surface and reveal structural details of this surface. Two different FM-SFM contrasts together with density functional theory calculations explain the presence of defects, buckling, and filling asymmetries on the surface. Our results evidence the important role of charge transfers between adatoms, restatoms, and dimers in the stabilisation of the structure of the vicinal surface.