In the Shadow of an Atom

Guest_Jim_* - February 17, 2012 09:19AM in Science & Technology

Last year Canon's research and development center is Australia, CiSRA, started their Extreme Imaging Prize contest for student research. Like any other photo or video contest, entries create something that is submitted and judged, but in this contest the media is of whatever research the students are working on. The submissions simply have to be creative, show technical excellence, and demonstrate how imaging helps us understand the world.

One of this year’s entries was from Griffith University and it is quite extraordinary. After cooling an atom to near absolute zero and holding it still in an ultra-high vacuum, the researchers measured the light in the area with a special lens to construct the atom’s shadow. Even though an atom is a billionth the width of a human hair, it will still cast a shadow. The lens used for this is similar in design to a lighthouse lens, but much, much smaller.

This entry was a runner up to one of a diver-propelled 3D camera that reconstructed a city lost to time and the ocean.