Hope for determining crystal surface structure through electron diffraction has been held out since Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer first saw coherent scattering of electrons in 1927. In an analogue to x‐ray studies of bulk crystal structure, low‐energy electrons (10–500 eV), which undergo strong elastic scattering and penetrate only a few atomic layers, should locate surface atoms. But the strong atomic scattering (cross section about 108times those for x rays) leads not only to great surface sensitivity but also to several collisions per electron. The computational complexity of treating this multiple scattering was largely responsible for delaying the development of a working theory for over 40 years.

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