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So looks strontium: English scientists have photographed a single atom in an ion trap

The Council for Engineering and Physical Sciences of Great Britain (EPSRC) has selected the winner of the national competition of scientific photography. He was a graduate student at Oxford University, David Nadlinger, who was able to capture a separate strontium atom in the photograph.

The photo is taken through the window of the vacuum chamber, in which there is an ion trap.

“The atom, illuminated by a laser beam, absorbs and emits enough light that an ordinary camera can capture it on a long exposure,”  – explained the British scientists.

The almost immobile strontium atom is imprinted in a magnetic field between two electrodes at a distance of 2 mm from each other.

“The chance to see a single atom with the naked eye inspired me – this is what separates the miniature quantum world and our macroreality. Calculations on paper showed that the figures are on my side, and I went to the laboratory with a camera and a tripod on one calm Sunday. And he was rewarded with a photo of a small pale blue dot,  “the author noted.

The photograph was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II SLR camera with a  Canon EF 50mm f / 1.8 lens and a nozzle. Two flashes with colored gel filters were used to illuminate the vacuum chamb

Photo of a positively charged strontium atom in a trap of stationary electric fields won the fifth annual scientific photography contest organized by the Scientific and Research Council for Engineering and Physical Sciences of the United Kingdom (EPSRC).

The beauty of this photo is that one atom is photographed by a conventional digital camera. When illuminated with a blue-violet laser, the atom absorbs and re-emits photons of light quickly enough that a conventional camera can fix it on a long exposure. Electric fields of the trap are generated by metal electrodes. The distance between them in the photo is two millimeters.

Laser-cooled atomic ions are an ideal platform for studying the unique properties of quantum physics. They also serve as extremely accurate atomic clocks and sensors. Perhaps in the future they will be used in quantum computers, which by an order of magnitude exceed the performance of modern supercomputers in certain types of tasks.

The picture is taken through a window of an ultrahigh vacuum chamber in which an ion trap is located. The author of the photo is David Nadlinger (David Nadlinger) from Oxford University.

“I was amazed at the idea that the atom is visible to the naked eye,” says the scientist and the author of the photo. – This is a wonderful direct and intuitive relationship between the miniature quantum world and our macroscopic reality. A quick calculation on a napkin showed that the numbers were on my side, and on one quiet Sunday day I went to a lab with a camera and tripods – and was rewarded with this particular photo with a small, pale blue dot. ”

The contest was held in five categories, in each of which three winners were determined. The work of David Nadlinger took the main prize and the 1 st place in the category “Equipment and Equipment”. Below are the winners in the remaining categories.

photo of a pattern that forms on a soapy foam in the kitchen sink. Two multi-colored parts of the image demonstrate the physical phenomenon of the formation and behavior of bubbles in substrates such as washing liquids and carbonated beverages. The picture shows how the bubble burst starts when two parts of the foam start to penetrate each other. The photo is called “In the kitchen a long time ago, in a distant-distant galaxy …”, which reminds the first phrase in the link to the space opera “Star Wars”. The author is Li Shen from the Imperial College of London

“Microbubble for drug delivery” is the work of Estelle Beguin from Oxford University, who won the category “Innovation”. Such microbubbles are composed of gas and a biocompatible shell. They are used to enhance the contrast of ultrasound diagnostic images. Now the possibility of their use for therapeutic purposes and for the accurate delivery of drugs to certain areas of the human body, for example, to cancer tumors, is being studied. The microscopic image shows a micron-sized vial covered with liposomes containing the drug. Liposomes are nanometer-sized. The scale scale segment in the photograph is 2 μm, that is, the diameter of the entire bubble is approximately 5 μm. The drug delivery system includes controlled transport and release of the medicine at a particular location.

photograph called “Spiderman on the Bridge of George the Fourth” was made by scientists from the University of Edinburgh during the testing of the mobile electroencephalograph (EEG). A volunteer named Spiderman is one of the 95 participants in the experiment over the age of 65, who studied the brain’s reaction to various types of urban environment: from roads to quiet parks. Based on the results of the experiment, scientists found that different urban environments cause different emotional responses in humans. This can be used in urban planning for more thoughtful urban planning.

“The Natural Nanoscale Network for Color Capture” is the work of Bernice Akpinar from the Imperial College of London. A fragment of the butterfly’s wings is taken under the atomic force microscope. They are covered with a nanometer structure to reflect the solar color at different wavelengths. Because of this effect in the visible range, it seems that the butterfly wings are poured in different colors.

Photos of other prize winners can be viewed here .

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