We modified an epi-illumination light microscope and mounted it on an ultra high vacuum chamber for investigating samples used in a surface science experiment. For easy access and bake out, all optical components are placed outside the vacuum and the sample is imaged through a glass window. The microscope can be operated in reflection brightfield or epifluorescence mode to image the sample surface or fluorescent dye molecules adsorbed on it. The homemade sample mounting was made compatible for the use under the microscope; sample temperatures as low as 6 K can be achieved. The performance of the microscope is demonstrated on two model samples: Brightfield-images of a well-prepared Ag(100) surface show a macroscopic corrugation of the surface, although low energy electron diffraction data indicate a highly ordered crystalline surface. The surface shows macroscopic protrusions with flat regions, about 20–200 μm in diameter, in between. Fluorescence images of diluted 3,4,9,10-perylene tetracarboxylicacid dianhydride (PTCDA) molecules adsorbed on an ultrathin epitaxial KCl film on the Ag(100) surface show a shading effect at surface protrusions due to an inclined angle of incidence of the PTCDA beam during deposition. For some preparations, the distribution of the fluorescence intensity is inhomogeneous and shows a dense network of bright patches about 5 μm in diameter related to the macroscopic corrugation of the surface. We propose that such a light microscope can aid many surface science experiments, especially those dealing with epitaxial growth or fluorescent materials.

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