A scanning tunneling microscope is used to map out surfaces at an atomic or molecular level. It shows three-dimensional images by using a fine conducting probe close to the sample. Electrons tunnel between the surface and the probe creating an electrical signal. The stylus' tip is so fine that it is only made up of one atom.
Basically, these instruments are used as mapping devices in physics, microelectronics, and chemistry to see surface images at an atomic level.
A scanning tunneling microscope is an instrument for imaging surfaces at atomic level. It is an electron microscope that shows three dimensional images of a sample. It is based on the concept of quantum tunneling. It is based on tunneling, in which wave-like properties of electrons permit the tunnel past the surface of a solid into areas of space that are forbidden to them under the rule of traditional physics.
The expectation of finding such tunneling electrons decreases as the distance from the surface increases. The STM makes use of this extreme sensitivity to distance. For an STM, good resolution is .01nm lateral resolution and 0.01 nm depth resolution.