Scanning Probe Microscopy


The Scanning Probe Microscopy department (part of the Institute for Molecules and Materials) focuses on scanning probe techniques to understand both fundamental and technological problems in condensed matter physics and surface chemistry. 



Discovering light in darkness: activating luminescent materials with environmental tuning

Researchers from the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) of Radboud University are able to make individual nickel phthalocyanine (NiPc) molecules light up by transferring energy from similar glowing molecules, at low temperatures.

neuromorphic computing

Detecting waves with single atoms for neuromorphic computing

Researchers at Radboud University's Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) discovered that a single atom can detect the frequency of these waves and reflect this information in its behavior.


Single-molecule OLED lights up upon charging: towards energy-efficient light sources

Physicists of Radboud University discovered that if electricity goes through an OLED made from single molecules in a scanning tunneling microscope, the charged state is important for emission of light. By this charge the molecule produces light, more...


Our group approaches numerous problems in physics and chemistry, utilizing or innovating new state of the art methods in scanning probe microscopy (SPM). Our aim is to understand fundamental problems ultimately toward innovating new approaches to technological applications based on materials science. Our expertise focuses on high precision magnetic and electronic imaging in cryogenic ultrahigh vacuum environments in magnetic fields, often combined with atomic manipulation.



Our department also hosts a cluster of cutting-edge labs we call the SPiN labs (Scanning Probe in Nijmegen). All instruments in the SPiN labs are customised commercial or home-built, based on strong in-house expertise in scanning probe technology, including multiple instruments capable of cryogenic operation, single-atom manipulation, and magnetic field-based measurements.

SPiN Labs 

Research topics

Complex magnetism on surfaces

We are interested in surface magnetism beyond the collinear limit, and how interface-driven interactions can lead to new complex magnetic phases of matter, for example skyrmionic or chiral spin order.

Single atom and single molecule magnetism

Our interest is on how utilizing single magnetic atoms and molecules as memory elements, for information technology. Of keen interest is how the magnetic properties, both the static and dynamic behavior of a spin, are modified by environmental effects, such as magnetic anisotropy or ligand fields.

Single molecule light emission

We apply tunneling-induced light emission detection combined with STM and STS to probe the luminescence behavior of individual molecules on surfaces. We are particularly interested in intra- and intermolecular interactions and how these modify the light emission, toward ultimately creating robust single molecule and aggregated emitters.

van der Waals materials

We are particularly interested in understand interesting electronic and magnetic phases in van der Waal materials, and the role of atomic scale defects or impurities. Moreover, we are interested in van der Waals materials approaching the single layer limit, and the changes to electronic screening in these environments.

Brain-inspired computing

We are interested in utilizing the control we have of individual spin states as well as coupling between atomic spins, as a platform to investigate various types of brain-inspired computing concepts.

Artificial quantum matter: atom-by-atom

We utilize surfaces combined with patterned atomic impurities as a platform to create electronic and magnetic artificial lattices. For example, with this method, we can utilize these platforms as a testbed to realize new states of matter, often not easily realized in crystals, as well as test many cutting-edge theories about the electronic and magnetic behavior, in these limits.

Alex Khajetoorians in SPM lab


We regularly have openings for internships for Bachelor's and Master's students, ranging from physics to chemistry, all involving SPM in some way. During the day to day research you will be supervised by one or more of our PhD students or postdocs. On a regular basis there will be a meeting with the head of the group to discuss the results, problems and plans for the future. Please contact us if you have an interest!



Molecular properties and light emission in electroluminescent devices

The research study provides a blueprint for future systematic research to unravel how a current flow in an electroluminescent device such as an OLED eventually leads to light and what the role the molecular properties play.

‘Doorbraken op komst voor energiezuinige dataopslag’

Brain-inspired computing

In the project' Neuromorphic computational and data Science: towards disruptively green computing', IBM, SURF and Radboud University investigate how neuromorphic hardware can meet green and sustainable energy need.

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Academic staff

Below is the scientific staff of the Scanning Probe Microscopy department. Head of the department is Prof. Alexander Khajetoorians.

Prof. A.A. Khajetoorians (Alex)
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Contact information


Huygens building

Heyendaalseweg 135
6525AJ Nijmegen
+31 24 365 21 21
Postal address
Postbus 9010