Versatile optical access to the tunnel gap in a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope

Rev Sci Instrum. 2010 Nov;81(11):113102. doi: 10.1063/1.3480548.


We developed a setup that provides three independent optical access paths to the tunnel junction of an ultrahigh vacuum low temperature (4.2 K) scanning tunneling microscope (STM). Each path can be individually chosen to couple light in or out, or to image the tunnel junction. The design comprises in situ adjustable aspheric lenses to allow tip exchange. The heat input into the STM is negligible. We present in detail the beam geometry and the realization of lens adjustment. Measurements demonstrate the characterization of a typical light source exemplified by emission from tip-induced plasmons. We suggest employing the Fourier transforming properties of imaging lenses and polarization analysis to obtain additional information on the light emission process. Performance and future potential of the instrument are discussed.