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The electrostatic potential resulting from a metallic probe tip near a semiconductor is examined. A solution is formulated assuming circular symmetry and using prolate spheroidal coordinates in the vacuum and Cartesian coordinates in the semiconductor. The result is most directly applied to the case of a hyperbolic probe tip, but other shapes (for example, a small hemispherical protrusion on the tip apex) can also be handled. Numerical results are given for representative cases that might be encountered in scanning probe microscopy. © 2003 American Vacuum Society.