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Low energy electron diffraction (LEED) is a very powerful technique that allows for the characterization of the surface of materials. Its high surface sensitivity is due to the use of electrons with energies between 20-200 eV, which have wavelengths equal to 2.7 – 0.87 Å (comparable to the atomic spacing). Therefore, the electrons can be elastically scattered easily by the atoms in the first few layers of the sample. Its features, such as little penetration of low–energy electrons have positioned it as one of the most common techniques in surface science for the determination of the symmetry of the unit cell (qualitative analysis) and the position of the atoms in the crystal surface (quantitative analysis).

History: Davisson and Germer experiment

In 1924 Louis de Brogile postulated that all forms of matter, such as electrons, have a wave-particle nature. Three years later after this postulate, the American physicists Clinton J. Davisson and Lester H. Germer ( [link] ) proved experimentally the wave nature of electrons at Bell Labs in New York, see Figure 1. At that time, they were investigating the distribution-in-angle of the elastically scattered electrons (electrons that have suffered no loss of kinetic energy) from the (111) face of a polycrystalline nickel, material composed of many randomly oriented crystals.

Davisson and Germer
Clinton Davisson (right) and Lester Germer (left) in their laboratory, where they proved that electrons could act like waves in 1927. Author unknown, public domain.

The experiment consisted of a beam of electrons from a heated tungsten filament directed against the polycrystalline nickel and an electron detector, which was mounted on an arc to observe the electrons at different angles. During the experiment, air entered in the vacuum chamber where the nickel was, producing an oxide layer on its surface. Davisson and Clinton reduced the nickel by heating it at high temperature. They did not realize that the thermal treatment changed the polycrystalline nickel to a nearly monocrystalline nickel, material composed of many oriented crystals. When they repeated the experiment, it was a great surprise that the distribution-in-angle of the scattered electrons manifested sharp peaks at certain angles. They soon realized that these peaks were interference patterns, and, in analogy to X-ray diffraction, the arrangement of atoms and not the structure of the atoms was responsible for the pattern of the scattered electrons.

The results of Davisson and Germer were soon corroborated by George Paget Thomson, J. J. Thomson’s son. In 1937, both Davisson and Thomson were awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics for their experimental discovery of the electron diffraction by crystals. It is noteworthy that 31 years after J. J. Thomson showed that the electron is a particle, his son showed that it is also a wave.

Although the discovery of low-energy electron diffraction was in 1927, it became popular in the early 1960’s, when the advances in electronics and ultra-high vacuum technology made possible the commercial availability of LEED instruments. At the beginning, this technique was only used for qualitative characterization of surface ordering. Years later, the impact of computational technologies allowed the use of LEED for quantitative analysis of the position of atoms within a surface. This information is hidden in the energetic dependence of the diffraction spot intensities, which can be used to construct a LEED I-V curve.

Questions & Answers

I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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advantages of NAA
Sai Reply
how I can reaction of mercury?
Sham Reply

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