Yesterday, researchers at Griffith University were able to capture this photo of a single atom – the limit of microscopy as we know it. Technically, it is the shadow of an atom: the photo was taken by shining light across the suspended atom and taking the picture where the light was absent. The real trick was determining what wavelength of light could be used to do it:

“By using the ultra hi-res microscope we were able to concentrate the image down to a smaller area than has been achieved before, creating a darker image which is easier to see,” Professor Kielpinski said.

The precision involved in this process is almost beyond imagining.

“If we change the frequency of the light we shine on the atom by just one part in a billion, the image can no longer be seen,” Professor Kielpinski said.

Amazing work, and a significant breakthrough.

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