Single Atom in an Ion Trap

Sometimes in One Bit news Thechnology we take a step back and wonder over nature.

This time we will let a single image say more than 1000 words.

‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’, by David Nadlinger, from the University of Oxford, shows the atom held by the fields emanating from the metal electrodes surrounding it. The distance between the small needle tips is about two millimetres.

When illuminated by a laser of the right blue-violet colour the atom absorbs and re-emits light particles sufficiently quickly for an ordinary camera to capture it in a long exposure photograph. The winning picture was taken through a window of the ultra-high vacuum chamber that houses the ion trap. Laser-cooled atomic ions provide a pristine platform for exploring and harnessing the unique properties of quantum physics. They can serve as extremelyaccurate clocks and sensors or, as explored by the UK Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, as building blocks for future quantum computers, which could tackle problems that stymie even today’s largest supercomputers.

Image Credit: David Nadlinger – University of Oxford. Canon 5D Mk II, EF 50mm f/1.8 with extension tubes, two flash units with colour gels.

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