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We are operating a suite of 5 scanning tunneling microscopy instruments, two of them offering combined atomic force capabilities in ultra-high vacuum (UHV). Two of these instruments are setup in two independent air-conditioned 3GHz Faraday cages providing a clean acoustic and electromagnetic environment. Besides the scanning probes, we have our own sample preparation facilities and access to a range of characterization tools in the department.

Omicron LT-STM/AFM

The Omicron UHV LT-STM offers combined STM/AFM capabilities in the temperature range of 3–350 K and a base pressure of 10-11 mBar. In addition to scanning probes, sample surfaces can be analysed chemically by XPS and structurally by LEED and RHEED. The system is further equipped with a range of evaporators, both on the STM and preparation chamber, a hydrogen cracker, and an ion gun.


The combined scanning tunneling microscope and atomic force microscope by SPECS GmbH was procured in 2012 with the support of the Ernest Boninchi and the Ernst and Lucie Schmidheiny Foundations. It is an ultra-high vacuum system, base pressure in the low 10-10 mBar at room temperature, based on a Joule-Thomson fridge allowing to reach 1.25 K. The system features a 3 Tesla superconducting coil located in the vacuum chamber – this enables to have optical access to the tunnel junction while the field is on. Further equipment include several evaporators, an ion gun and hydrogen cracker.

Vector Field UHV STM

This home-built instrument is in its final assembly stage. It will feature a custom designed STM/AFM in UHV with a 4T/9T vector magnetic field.

UHV Evaporation Chamber

We developed a chamber to perform shadow mask evaporation in ultra-high vacuum. The sample and shadow mask can be moved into position independently with piezoelectric actuators.