Picture of a Single Atom Wins Top Prize in Science Photo Contest

[ 12 February 2018 ] An image of a single positively-charged strontium atom, comprised near motionless by electric battlegrounds, has won the overall prize in a national science photography competition, organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council( EPSRC ).


Single Atom in an Ion Trapa

, by David Nadlinger, from the University of Oxford, shown in the atom held by the fields emanating from the metal electrodes surrounding it. The distance between the small needle tips-off is about two millimetres.

When illuminated by a laser for the human rights blue-violet colour the atom assimilate and re-emits light particles sufficiently rapidly for an ordinary camera to capture it in a long exposure photograph. The winning illustration was taken through a window of the ultra-high vacuum enclosure that houses the ion trap.

Laser-cooled atomic ions provide a pristine platform for investigating and harnessing the unique properties of quantum physics. They can serve as exceedingly accurate clocks and sensors or, as explored by the UK Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, as building block for future quantum computers, which could tackle difficulties that stymie even todaya

s largest supercomputers.

The image, came first in the Equipment& Facilities category, as well as winning overall against many other stunning images, featuring research in action, in the EPSRCs competition a

now in its fifth year.

David Nadlinger, explained how the photograph came about: a

The mind of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the miniscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality. A back-of-the-envelope calculation presented the numbers to be on my side, and when I set off to the lab with camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with this particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.a

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