To gain even deeper insights into the smallest of worlds, the thresholds of microscopy must be expanded further. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the TU Dresden, in cooperation with the Freie Universität Berlin, have succeeded in combining two established me ... more
Video reveals wave character of particlesWave properties of individual heavy molecules can also be observed experimentally
Every individual molecule fluoresces and becomes part of the interference pattern. Figures a through e show the states after 0, 2, 20, 40 and 90 minutes, respectively.
Quantum theory describes the world of atoms very precisely. Still, it defies our macroscopic conception of everyday's world due to its many anti-intuitive predictions. The wave-particle dualism probably is the best known example and means that matter may spread and interfere like waves. Now, an international team of researchers has recorded the interference process of individual molecules. The recordings were published by the journal Nature Nanotechnology online.
"Seeing how the interference pattern develops with every light spot, molecule after molecule, and how a basic principle of quantum mechanics is visualized enhances our understanding of the atomic world," explains Professor Marcel Mayor, who conducts research and teaches at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Basel.
For the experiment performed in cooperation with colleagues from the universities of Vienna and Tel Aviv, Mayor synthesized fluorescent phtalocyanin molecules having an atomic mass of up to 1298 AMU and consisting of up to 114 atoms. Then, the molecules were accelerated, sent as a slow beam through an optical grating, and deposited on the entrance vacuum window, where they were excited to fluoresce by a laser. For a period of 90 minutes, a fluorescence microscope observed the build-up of the interference pattern. Its setup has a sufficient sensitivity to exactly locate every individual molecule on the window with a precision of about 10 nanometers.
In the future, the setup might be used to study the so-called van-der-Waals interaction between molecules in the beam and those in the grating, which is reflected rather sensitively by the interference pattern. Researchers are also interested in finding out from which size and under which conditions particles behave quantum mechanically or classically, i.e. in the so-called decoherence. These findings may be the basis for novel applications, such as quantum computers. "But the many insights given by this experiment into the quantum world and its boundaries already are of high value," Mayor agrees with many experts, among others Bum Suk Zhao and Wieland Schöllkopf from the Fritz Haber Institute, Berlin, who evaluate the experiment in the accompanying comment article in the same journal.
- Universität Basel
- Universität Wien
- Tel Aviv University
A unique colour X-ray camera goes into operation at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) today. With this camera, it will be possible for the researchers at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), a part of the HZDR, to determine within a very short period ... more
While residual medications don’t belong in the water, trace metals from industrial process waters handled by the recycling industry are, in contrast, valuable resources. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have developed a simple color sensor principle which facili ... more
Scientists using computational techniques to look at processes in DNA have employed a surface-hopping approach to predict the degree of charge localisation across nucleobases. The technique should allow more accurate modeling of the effects of charge transfer within the molecule. Different ... more
The world’s smallest tunnels have a width of a few nanometers only. Researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Rice University, USA, have dug such tunnels into graphite samples. This will allow structuring of the interior of materials through self-organization in the nanom ... more
In chemical industry, heterogeneous catalysis is of crucial importance to the manufacture of basic or fine chemicals, in catalytic converters of exhaust gas, or for the chemical storage of solar energy. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) ... more
The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a life-threatening pathogen in hospitals. About ten percent of all nosocomial infections, in particular pneumonia, are caused by this pathogen. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum, have now discovered that calcium induces the switch ... more
A new type of atomic force microscope (AFM) uses nanowires as tiny sensors. Unlike standard AFM, the device with a nanowire sensor enables measurements of both the size and direction of forces. Physicists at the University of Basel and at the EPF Lausanne have described these results in the ... more
Researchers at the University and University Hospital of Basel succeed in imaging microscopically small structures of the human brain in three dimensions and automatically detecting the number of Purkinje cells in this tissue. The human being consists of thousand times more cells than the M ... more
Zooming into a nuclear pore complex using a high-speed atomic force microscope reveals the selectivity barrier that filters the traffic of molecules passing between the cytoplasm and nucleus in eukaryotic cells. This is comprised of intrinsically disordered proteins known as FG Nucleoporins ... more
- 1Mysteries of enzyme mechanism revealed
- 2How good is the measurement method?
- 3High-precision magnetic field sensing
- 4ZEISS and EPFL begin long-term research collaboration
- 5Sniffing like a dog can improve trace detection of explosives
- 6A new record at BESSY II: ten million ions in an ion trap cooled for the first time to 7.4 K
- New link discovered between class of rogue autoantibodies and poor health ou ...
- Here comes ‘NoBody,’ a microprotein on a mission
- Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
- For the first time, scientists catch water molecules passing the proton baton
- First structural map of cystic fibrosis protein sheds light on how mutations ...