# Understanding Quantum Corral images

• I
• fog37
In summary, quantum corrals are created by assembling individual atoms using a STM, and the resulting image shows the probability density of the surface electrons. This is made possible by the varying current through the tip of the STM, which depends on the density of states of both the tip and sample.
fog37
Hello Forum,

The iconic images of quantum corrals are made by assembling individual atoms using a STM.
I am still unclear on what the image is truly representing. Do the ripples represent the probability density? Of what? How is that possible? I can see how we can mathematically calculate and graph wavefunctions and associated probability density functions but I don't see how we can physically see them with the STM...

thanks!

fog37 said:
I am still unclear on what the image is truly representing.
The high spots in the image are regions where the current through the tip of the STM is greater.

Been a while since this very correct answer was given. Is fog completely happy with this answer ? Because I'm still curious to know what causes this current to vary (which it doesn't for the 'constant current' practical implementations where the tip is moved up and down ). Under Procedure (NOT under Principle of operation) I find that the tunneling current depends on the density of states. The TeachersManual is a bit more elaborate: On p 5 the work functions of tip and sample are featuring, and again the densities (tip and sample) of states.

Wonderful ! And all this info with just a little Googling. Time to brush up solid state physics, Fermi levels and such !

## 1. What is a quantum corral image?

A quantum corral image is a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) image of a circular arrangement of atoms on a surface, typically formed by depositing atoms onto a metal surface. The circular arrangement creates a well-defined potential energy landscape that can trap electrons, leading to distinct patterns in the STM image.

## 2. How do quantum corral images help us understand quantum mechanics?

Quantum corral images provide a visual representation of the behavior of electrons at the nanoscale, where quantum effects dominate. By studying these images, scientists can observe how electrons move and interact in the confined space of the corral, providing insight into quantum phenomena such as wave-particle duality and quantum tunneling.

## 3. What techniques are used to create quantum corral images?

Quantum corral images are typically created using a scanning tunneling microscope, which uses a sharp tip to scan over a surface and measure the flow of electrons between the tip and the surface. The STM is operated at very low temperatures to minimize thermal noise and achieve high resolution.

## 4. How are quantum corral images used in practical applications?

While quantum corral images are primarily used for scientific research, they also have potential applications in nanotechnology and quantum computing. By manipulating the atoms in the corral, researchers can create custom potential energy landscapes for electrons, which could be used for data storage or quantum information processing.

## 5. What challenges do scientists face in interpreting quantum corral images?

One major challenge in interpreting quantum corral images is distinguishing between the effects of the electrons being imaged and the tip of the STM itself. The tip can affect the electron behavior and create artifacts in the image, leading to potential misinterpretation. Additionally, the complex quantum effects observed in these images can be difficult to fully understand and explain.

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