Physicists have seen the shadow of the atom


Australian physicists have created a special camera, with which you can get high quality pictures shadow cast by a single atom at the time of irradiation with UV light. In the future it will monitor the operation of various components in living cells.

The microscope has long ceased to be the only way to monitor the microcosm. At the beginning of this century, physicists have developed several new methods that involve the use of a beam of electrons to transmit through the sample and imaging. Resolution of the best transmission electron microscope (TEM) can reach angstrom share, or less than 0.1 nm.

A group of Australian researchers from Griffith University, headed by David Kilpinski, studied the interaction of the particles of light (photons) and heavy metal ions. For this study, researchers cooled Ytterbium-174 atoms to temperatures approaching absolute zero. Then they removed one atom of this heavy metal and placed in a Paul trap. This trap is a special configuration formed by alternating magnetic fields, allowing you to keep the ion in place.

Physics metal ion irradiated ultraviolet ray photons are trying to concentrate it. For this purpose, they used a special optical device - a phase lens Frenhelya. It is similar to many of the doll microprisms, the position and thickness of which are chosen so that they collect and amplify light radiation.

As reported by Australian researchers, using well-designed lenses they managed to get a clear image of the shadow of the atom. The researchers point out that the system remains stable for hours, so that the trapped atoms can be studied indefinitely. According to physicists, they received the shadow image of the atom have a contrast ratio that is close to the maximum possible under the circumstances.

Kalpinski and his colleagues believe that the future development of their technology will allow scientists to study in detail the processes occurring in the cell, in particular the formation of RNA and DNA and the "unwinding" of chromosomes. But first, it will be necessary to improve the speed of operation of the CCD camera and to develop algorithms for processing such images, which would allow to extract the maximum quality of minimally contrasting images.

According to the materials

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