A Single Atom Has Been Photographed With A Simple Digital Camera

A Single Atom Has Been Photographed With A Simple Digital Camera
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In the world, there are countless amazing things that are either too big or too small to be observed with the naked eye. Instruments such as telescopes or microscopes help us explore the macrocosm and the microcosm, respectively. David Nadlinger, Ph.D. at the Oxford University, England, did something unexpected. He photographed an atom using a regular digital camera, and the result was fascinating.

Capturing an image of a single atom is difficult. Even more, it is impossible to do it without powerful equipment. For example, in 2012, Australian physicists used a high-res microscope during a thorough process for capturing the first image of a single atom ever.

A single strontium atom appears in a photo taken with a regular camera

What you can see in the picture (the one you can see above), right in the middle, is a single strontium ion (positively charged atom) suspended in electric fields generated by surrounding metal electrodes.

The distance between the two electrodes’ needles is only two millimeters, according to the physicist.

When the ions like this are illuminated by a laser with the right blue-violet shade, they absorb the light particles and then emit them. Nadlinger realized that if he sets the camera on a sufficiently long exposure, he can capture the atom’s light emitting moments in a digital image.

The photography won the appreciation of the science community in the UK

Such a simple way to capture a single atom on camera couldn’t wait long for positive feedback from the science community. Even more, the image was sharp enough and that made it even more interesting.

Therefore, on February 12th, the image brought the big prize for Nadlinger at the United Kingdom’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council photography competition, where more than a hundred competitors were registered.

Nadlinger is happy he has managed to give to the world the first captured image of a single atom done with a regular digital camera.


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Jeffrey Olmsted

Jeffrey likes to write about health and fitness topics, being a champion fitness instructor in the past.

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