Photograph of a single atom: look at it with the naked eye

This photograph was taken by David Nadlinger and is called "The Single Atom in the Ion Trap." And she has already won the competition for the best scientific photography, conducted by the Research Council of Engineering and Physical Sciences of Great Britain. The photo shows a single strontium atom in a powerful electric field. Lasers are aimed at him, because of which the atom emits light.

Even though the atom is visible, it is still not easy to consider it. If you look closely at the center of the photo, you will notice a faintly glowing blue dot. This is a strontium atom illuminated by a blue-violet laser.

Strontium was used in the experiment because of its size: strontium has 38 protons, and its atomic diameter is several millionths of a millimeter. Usually we would not have seen such a small object, but scientists used a trick to make the atom brighter.

In the photograph, he is illuminated by a high-power laser, due to which the electrons orbiting around the strontium atom receive more energy and begin to emit light. Once the charged electrons gave enough light, the most ordinary camera was able to photograph the atom.

True, if you personally stood next to this installation, you would not see anything. The picture was taken using a long shutter speed, because without this equipment all this light can not be noticed anyway. True, there is simply no other way for a person to see a real single atom with the naked eye.


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