Atoms are impressively small basic units of matter that congregate into everything in the universe. Countless numbers of various atoms combine to create everything we see; books, cars, laptops, and our bodies all contain atoms. Life itself is influenced by the interactions between these atoms. Yet, these insanely small building blocks are unnoticed and ignored by practically everyone every day. No one sees things as individual atoms. Humans do not look at one another and see an infinite number of individual atoms, instead each person is seen as one, whole being. Does this mean we are incapable of seeing just one atom?
A recent study has put this question to the test by capturing a photograph of a single strontium atom (the small dot in the center of the picture above). David Nadlinger of Oxford University recently captured a photo of strontium using a standard digital camera with the help of quantum lab equipment. The quantum equipment is important for ionizing the atom, which is then held in-place due to the charge by an ion-trap apparatus. Lasers are then used to help illuminate the atom, thus allowing a photo to be taken.
While this impressive study shows that a lab can display a single atom, it is still impossible for humans to see a single atom in nature. Atoms are far too small to be seen with the naked eye, but it is still cool that a standard camera can show us what an atom looks like after manipulation. Further tests could lead to capturing strings of hundreds of ions, as subsequent tests have already captured up to nine ions in a row. Quantum mechanics and like fields will benefit more from further studies in the future, but from a biological perspective the study is still interesting as atoms are the basic units of matter.
Article referenced: https://www.livescience.com/61763-single-atom-ion-trap-photo.html
Posted by Patrick Munley (2)