ERC Consolidator Grant
"Single Atom Radio Frequency Fingerprinting" (SARF)


Funded by: European Research Council (ERC)
Principal investigator: Stefan Müllegger
Duration: 2018 - 2023
see also: Fodok

About SARF

Precise investigation tools for analyzing and manipulating matter down to the scale of single atoms are the eyes, ears and fingers of nanoscience and -engineering. SARF takes these nano-analytical “senses” one next step beyond the present state of the art. SARF is breaking new grounds by enabling spectral fingerprinting of single atoms for elemental identification and intra-molecular chemical analytics with sub-nanometer spatial resolution and operating in vacuum- as well as liquid-phase environments. This presently impossible combination of analytical capabilities simultaneously in a single tool is highly desirable to many diverse fields of nanoscience and -technology, where decisive functionality originates from single individual atoms and molecules (e.g. spintronics, sensorics, catalysis, medicinal drug development, surface physics, biology, etc.). SARF realizes resonance spectroscopy at giga-Hertz frequencies combined with scanning tunneling microscopy for specific single-atom fingerprinting. Characteristic resonance signals are locally detectable by the probe tip as small changes of conductance that indeed enable elemental and chemical identification. SARF conceives and develops single-atom fingerprinting on a manifold of different systems including magnetic and nonmagnetic metals, semiconductors and, exemplarily, tetrapyrrole-based metal-organic functional molecules. If successful, SARF will provide a controlled, versatile, fast and readily applicable “atom-by-atom” matter analysis, where single atoms are selected and identified one by one in real time and space.


Stefan Müllegger (PI)

Vitalii Stetsovych

Simon Feigl

Radovan Vranik

Join Us:

We are looking for proactive and enthusiastic students to join our SARF project team.

Please send your documents to

Open positions:

  • 2 PhD positions on radio frequency scanning tunneling microscopy
  • 1 PostDoc position on radio frequency scanning tunneling microscopy