Extreme imaging wins science praise

Feb 17, 2012 By Louise Durack
Ben Norton's remarkable image of an atom was runner up in the CiSRA Extreme Imaging Competition in Australia. Credit: Courtesy of Griffith University

A Griffith University PhD candidate has been highly awarded for his innovative image of the shadow of a single atom.

Ben Norton, from the Kielpinski group in the Centre for Quantum Dynamics, was runner up in the CiSRA Extreme Imaging Competition following extensive work on .

Run by Australia and CiSRA, Canon Inc.'s Australian research centre, the Extreme Imaging competition aims to promote and celebrate local research at the intersection of imaging and technology.

" are the building blocks of matter. A human hair is a billion atoms wide," said Professor David Kielpinski, from Griffith's Centre for . "So just manipulating and isolating a single atom is extremely difficult, let alone imaging it.

"Ben has had to use some very special tricks to do both.

"First of all he cools them down, to within a degree of 'absolute zero', the coldest temperature possible (about−273.15 °C), to keep them still. Then he traps them inside an ultra-high vacuum, holding them steady using electric fields. These techniques are very hard, but they have been done before. What is new is how Ben images them.

"To do this he uses a special flat lens made using concentric rings, which was originally developed for lighthouses. These lenses can be made so small and light that they can be put inside the vacuum chamber with the atoms, allowing Ben to collect as much light as possible. This last trick has allowed Ben to take some of the highest resolution images of atoms ever made, including the first ever image of the shadow of a single atom, by measuring how much light is absorbed when the atom is there."

Professor Kielpinski said imaging single atoms is important for understanding not just physics, but also in the new field of quantum computing. "The techniques developed in this project may have other applications too, such as ultra-high resolution imaging of biological cells.

"I really appreciate that this work has been considered worthy of the Canon prize – it's been an amazing opportunity. I am also very grateful for the strong support I have received from my supervisors at Griffith throughout my research there."

Explore further: Neutron tomography technique reveals phase fractions of crystalline materials in 3-dimensions

Provided by Griffith University

4 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists make quantum breakthrough

Apr 20, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have demonstrated for the first time that atoms can be guided in a laser beam and possess the same properties as light guided in an optical communications fiber.

Engineering images bring life to submerged city

Feb 10, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Photo-realistic 3D mapping and digital reconstruction of an ancient underwater city in Greece have earned a team from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies ...

Squeezed light from single atoms

Jun 30, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics scientists generate amplitude-squeezed light fields using single atoms trapped inside optical cavities.

Dark spins light up

Oct 25, 2005

Want to see a diamond? Forget the jewellery store - try a physics laboratory. In the November issue of Nature Physics, Ryan Epstein and colleagues demonstrate the power of their microscope for imaging individual nitrogen ...

Recommended for you

50-foot-wide Muon g-2 electromagnet installed at Fermilab

15 hours ago

One year ago, the 50-foot-wide Muon g-2 electromagnet arrived at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois after traveling 3,200 miles over land and sea from Long Island, ...

Spin-based electronics: New material successfully tested

Jul 30, 2014

Spintronics is an emerging field of electronics, where devices work by manipulating the spin of electrons rather than the current generated by their motion. This field can offer significant advantages to computer technology. ...

User comments : 0