For the First Time, A Snapshot of A Single Atom's Shadow

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 10:01 in Physics & Chemistry

Shadow of an Atom This is the shadow of a single ytterbium atom. Kielpinski Group, Griffith University There's no way to take a direct picture of something as small and fleeting as a Higgs boson. But physicists can photograph its relatives, directly imaging atomic structures and improving our understanding of atomic physics. Now comes this picture: The first-ever snapshot of a single atom's shadow. This is the smallest thing that can be seen in visible light. A team led by Dave Kielpinski at Griffith University in Australia figured out how to grasp a single ytterbium ion in an electric field, holding it in place so it could be photographed. They shone light on it in a specific frequency, and used an ultra-high-resolution microscope to focus on it. The atom cast a shadow on a CCD detector, which captured the image you see here. The team wanted to prove how many atoms it...

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