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02-13-2018, 07:02 AM   #1
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Photo of a single illuminated atom

Good morning everyone. Today I ran across this article from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council who have chosen the winners for this years science photography competition. This year's winning photo is an image of a single atom illuminated with a laser that is held in an electric field. The image was taken from a view port on a high vacuum chamber and shows the ion trap as well as the single atom held in it illuminated in a pale purple. For scale the distance between the needles in the trap is about 2mm.

At the bottom of the article you can see all of the winners and read a little bit about each photo.



02-13-2018, 08:59 AM   #2
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I wonder if that was shot with Pixel Shift...
02-13-2018, 01:50 PM   #3
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From my experience of electron microscope images, there’s something off with the scale of this image..? To be able to resolve an atom, the rest of the picture would be maybe a football pitches distance away...
02-13-2018, 07:56 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by John279 Quote
From my experience of electron microscope images, there’s something off with the scale of this image..? To be able to resolve an atom, the rest of the picture would be maybe a football pitches distance away...
It is possible to "see" a single atom doing an experiment like this, or at least see the light that is given off by a single atom. Under ideal circumstances it would illuminate a single pixel on the camera or single grain on the film. A single atom is the ideal point source of light, and even if there were 2 or 3 atoms instead of just one it would still only illuminate a single pixel since you aren't actually seeing the atom only the light it emits when excited. Another way to think of it is that someone 5 miles away has a very tiny but very bright flashlight focused in a very tight beam, your camera would likely be able to detect the light with a long exposure even using just a 50mm lens even though the person holding the flashlight is is likely smaller than a single pixel but you would still see a single illuminated pixel.

My father-in-law worked at a national lab and was lucky enough to be able to see a similar demonstration several years ago and mentioned that it is possible for the unaided eye to see such a phenomenon. The ability to do this has been around for a while so much so that it was described in "The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama" that was published in 2004 which mentions that this became possible in the last 10 to 15 years (so between about 1990 and 1995). Here is a brief excerpt describing the process of how these demonstartions are done.

Like so many experiments they seem to defy reality until one really understands what is happening.

02-15-2018, 10:02 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
It is possible to "see" a single atom doing an experiment like this, or at least see the light that is given off by a single atom. Under ideal circumstances it would illuminate a single pixel on the camera or single grain on the film. A single atom is the ideal point source of light, and even if there were 2 or 3 atoms instead of just one it would still only illuminate a single pixel since you aren't actually seeing the atom only the light it emits when excited. Another way to think of it is that someone 5 miles away has a very tiny but very bright flashlight focused in a very tight beam, your camera would likely be able to detect the light with a long exposure even using just a 50mm lens even though the person holding the flashlight is is likely smaller than a single pixel but you would still see a single illuminated pixel.

My father-in-law worked at a national lab and was lucky enough to be able to see a similar demonstration several years ago and mentioned that it is possible for the unaided eye to see such a phenomenon. The ability to do this has been around for a while so much so that it was described in "The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama" that was published in 2004 which mentions that this became possible in the last 10 to 15 years (so between about 1990 and 1995). Here is a brief excerpt describing the process of how these demonstartions are done.

Like so many experiments they seem to defy reality until one really understands what is happening.
Thank you for this. Amazing the things you learn (and see) on pentaxforums.
02-16-2018, 08:29 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by m0n0 Quote
Thank you for this. Amazing the things you learn (and see) on pentaxforums.
That is why I posted it. While not a picture taken with a Pentax it is interesting and people might learn or get something else out of it. Much like when someone provided a link to this article explaining the 1200mm focal length moon picture over in the critique forum when discussing how to take moon photos.
02-17-2018, 10:24 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
That is why I posted it. While not a picture taken with a Pentax it is interesting and people might learn or get something else out of it. Much like when someone provided a link to this article explaining the 1200mm focal length moon picture over in the critique forum when discussing how to take moon photos.
That one was also interesting. We should always be open to bits of photographic interest like that
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