Catching an Atom's Shadow

Guest_Jim_* - July 4, 2012 12:29PM in Science & Technology

Some of you may recall from February a news item about an image being made of the shadow of an atom at Griffith University. Well the university is back again with another image of the shadow of an atom, but this one is a little different. The earlier image was taken from the top down, showing the shadow's pattern, but this new one was taken in line with the atom, as the image below shows.

To take this picture, the researchers had to use ultra-precise instruments and an ultra-high-resolution microscope. Holding the atom in place long enough for a picture was the first challenge to overcome, but it was not the last and has been achieved before. The researchers also had to use a light source with a specific frequency because being off by even one part in a billion, will cause the shadow to disappear.

Other than just being a cool image, the researchers also made advances in atomic physics by observing how much light atoms will absorb. This kind of observation may help in biomicroscopy as it is important to not use too much light when looking at cells in molecules, as too much light can kill the cell.