Infoscience

Thesis

Quantum size effects in ultrathin metallic islands: a scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy study

This thesis reports measurements concerning quantum size effects of single crystalline metallic islands by using low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and spectroscopy (STS). Different sample systems are presented in the following chapters. In chapter 2, several aspects of quantum well states (QWS) of Pb ultrathin islands grown on Si(111) substrate are reported. The differential conductance spectra of QWS can be understood by discrete energy levels with linewidth broadening because of finite quasiparticle lifetime. Using low temperature scanning tunneling spectroscopy, we studied the linewidth of unoccupied quantum-well states (QWS) in Pb islands, grown on Si(111) on two different Pb/Si interfaces, of thicknesses between 7 and 22 monolayers. A quantitative analysis of the differential conductance spectra allowed us to determine the QWS lifetime broadening as a function of energy, showing agreement with 3D Fermi-liquid theory, as well as the electron-phonon (e-ph) contribution between 5 and 50 K. Layer-dependent ab initio calculations of the e-ph linewidth contributions are in excellent agreement with the data. Importantly, the sum of the calculated e-e and e-ph lifetime broadening follows the experimentally observed quadratic energy dependence. In chapter 3, studies investigating reduction of the superconducting gap of ultrathin Pb islands are presented. The energy gap Δ of superconducting Pb islands grown on Si(111) was probed in situ between 5 and 60 monolayers by low-temperature scanning tunneling spectroscopy. Δ was found to decrease from its bulk value as a function of inverse island thickness. Corresponding Tc values, estimated using bulk gap-to-Tc ratio, are in quantitative agreement with ex situ magnetic susceptibility measurements, however, in strong contrast to previous scanning probe results. Layer-dependent ab initio density functional calculations for free-standing Pb films show that the electron-phonon coupling constant, determining Tc, decreases with diminishing film thickness. In chapter 4, we present preliminary results on single electron tunneling and Coulomb blockade phenomena of metallic islands decoupled from a Ag(111) substrate by dielectric NaCl layers. Using low temperature STM/STS, the geometry of the metallic island can be determined unambiguously and the single electron tunneling properties are characterized. Using orthodox theory of single electron tunneling, the tunneling spectra can be reproduced qualitatively. Despite minor quantitative disagreement between data and simulations, the parameters of the double barrier tunneling junction, including the capacitances and the resistances of both junctions, as well as the residual charge, can be determined.

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