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The combination of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) with optical excitation adds new information to STM. A review is presented covering the work done on light-induced effects in STM during the past 15 years. Effects discussed include thermal effects, nonlinear effects, field enhancement at the STM tip, various effects on semiconductor surfaces, excitation of surface plasmons, detection of photoelectrons, spin-polarized tunneling, as well as light-induced nanomodifications, local optical spectroscopy, the use of ultrashort laser pulses for time-resolved STM, and the combination of STM and scanning near-field optical microscopy. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.