Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First photo of shadow of single atom

Date:
July 3, 2012
Source:
Griffith University
Summary:
Scientists have captured the first image of the shadow of a single atom. They trapped single atomic ions of the element ytterbium and exposed them to a specific frequency of light. Under this light the atom's shadow was cast onto a detector, and a digital camera was then able to capture the image.

Illustration of a single atom shadow with the atom shadow on the right end of the cylinder.
Credit: Image courtesy of Griffith University

In an international scientific breakthrough, a Griffith University research team has been able to photograph the shadow of a single atom for the first time.

Related Articles


"We have reached the extreme limit of microscopy; you can not see anything smaller than an atom using visible light," Professor Dave Kielpinski of Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics in Brisbane, Australia.

"We wanted to investigate how few atoms are required to cast a shadow and we proved it takes just one," Professor Kielpinski said.

Published this week in Nature Communications, "Absorption imaging of a single atom "is the result of work over the last 5 years by the Kielpinski/Streed research team.

At the heart of this Griffith University achievement is a super high-resolution microscope, which makes the shadow dark enough to see.

Holding an atom still long enough to take its photo, while remarkable in itself, is not new technology; the atom is isolated within a chamber and held in free space by electrical forces.

Professor Kielpinski and his colleagues trapped single atomic ions of the element ytterbium and exposed them to a specific frequency of light. Under this light the atom's shadow was cast onto a detector, and a digital camera was then able to capture the image.

"By using the ultra hi-res microscope we were able to concentrate the image down to a smaller area than has been achieved before, creating a darker image which is easier to see," Professor Kielpinski said.

The precision involved in this process is almost beyond imagining.

"If we change the frequency of the light we shine on the atom by just one part in a billion, the image can no longer be seen," Professor Kielpinski said.

Research team member, Dr Erik Streed, said the implications of these findings are far reaching.

"Such experiments help confirm our understanding of atomic physics and may be useful for quantum computing," Dr Streed said.

There are also potential follow-on benefits for biomicroscopy.

"Because we are able to predict how dark a single atom should be, as in how much light it should absorb in forming a shadow, we can measure if the microscope is achieving the maximum contrast allowed by physics."

"This is important if you want to look at very small and fragile biological samples such as DNA strands where exposure to too much UV light or x-rays will harm the material.

"We can now predict how much light is needed to observe processes within cells,under optimum microscopy conditions, without crossing the threshold and destroying them."

And this may get biologists thinking about things in a different way.

"In the end, a little bit of light just might be enough to get the job done."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Griffith University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Erik W. Streed, Andreas Jechow, Benjamin G. Norton, David Kielpinski. Absorption imaging of a single atom. Nature Communications, 2012; 3: 933 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1944

Cite This Page:

Griffith University. "First photo of shadow of single atom." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703172543.htm>.
Griffith University. (2012, July 3). First photo of shadow of single atom. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703172543.htm
Griffith University. "First photo of shadow of single atom." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703172543.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins