It is very hard to take a photo of a hummingbird flapping its wings 50 times per second. The exposure time has to be much shorter than the characteristic time scale of the wing beat, otherwise you will only see a colorful blur. A very similar problem is encountered in solid-state physics, w ... more
Atoms at the photo shoot
Scientists photographed, for the first time, individual atoms floating less than a thousandth of a millimeter above a light-conducting glass fiber
The first photograph of a single trapped atom represented a milestone for quantum research. This breakthrough was made possible because the atom was captured in a vacuum using electric fields and held far from surfaces whose scattered light could blind the camera.
Scientists at Humboldt University of Berlin (HU) and Technical University of Vienna (TU) have now succeeded for the first time in taking photos of individual atoms floating less than a thousandth of a millimeter above a light-conducting glass fiber. This allows effects such as the absorption and emission of light to be studied in the laboratory in a much more controlled way than before. In addition, the knowledge gained will help to develop components for a new generation of optical fiber networks.
About ten years ago, Prof. Dr. Arno Rauschenbeutel's research group realized for the first time a novel atom-light interface in which several thousand atoms are trapped in the vicinity of special glass fibers. These are so-called optical nanofibers, which are 100 times thinner than a human hair. The atoms are captured with tweezers created by laser light only 0.2 micrometers away from the glass fiber surface. At the same time, they are cooled with laser light to a temperature of about one millionth of a degree above absolute zero.
Despite these extreme conditions, the researchers have recently even been able to carry out experiments with single fiber-coupled atoms. They took photographs of the atoms and made short films of a few seconds duration. To do this, they used an ultra-sensitive camera and had to rigorously shield any ambient light. Thanks to the permanent cooling, the atoms remained so steady that the images could be exposed for almost half a second.
"Based on these results, we will be able to study the interaction of light and matter extremely precisely, atom by atom", says Dr. Philipp Schneeweiss, a member of Rauschenbeutel’s team. Possible applications of this research include more efficient light sources and photosensitive elements, using individual atoms as probes to study the properties of surfaces, and the optical processing of quantum information.
- optical fibers
Oxygen is highly reactive. It accumulates on many surfaces and determines their chemical behavior. At the Vienna University of Technology, scientists study the interaction between oxygen and metal oxide surfaces, which play an important role in many technical applications - from chemical se ... more
Advances in neuroscience research and microscopy: Researchers look deep into organs and nervous systems of animals, ranging from squids and worms to fish and salamanders. Analyses of individual cells in the context of whole organs or tissues is becoming increasingly important in biology. A ... more
- 1analytica 2020: World’s leading trade fair to be held virtually
- 2analytica 2020: The world’s leading trade fair extends its reach with analytica virtual
- 3Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test could bypass the lab
- 4Researchers dramatically downsize technology for fingerprinting drugs and other chemicals
- 5Attacking tumours directly on identification
- 6Towards a cell-based interceptive medicine in Europe
- 7Giant nanomachine aids the immune system
- 8A tiny instrument to measure the faintest magnetic fields
- 9Leap forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance
- 10New device can measure toxic lead within minutes