Theory of Visible Light Emission from Scanning Tunneling Microscope

Yoichi Uehara, Yuichi Kimura, Sukekatsu Ushioda Takeuchi, Koichiro T. Akeuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanism for visible light emission from the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) has been investigated theoretically by adapting a theory for light emitting tunnel junctions (LETJ). From the analysis of the calculated results and available experimental data, the following picture emerges. The tunneling current first excites localized surface plasmons (LSP) that are localized in a region of a few tens of Angstroms between the STM tip-front and the sample surface. Some of them decay into surface plasmon polaritons (SPP) that propagate along the sample surface. There are two channels of light emission: one is direct emission from LSP and the other is emission through SPP. The relative branching ratio between these two channels depends on the experimental configuration. The effect of sample surface roughness is very small and negligible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2465-2469
Number of pages5
JournalJapanese journal of applied physics
Issue number8 R
Publication statusPublished - 1992 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • Light emission
  • Local surface plasmon
  • STM
  • Surface plasmon polariton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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