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David Nadlinger's image of a single atom trapped in an electric field

SciShorts: Student Captures Breathtaking Image of a Single Atom

Of all the things that a photographer could capture with his camera, an atom will definitely not be in the list. David Nadlinger, a Ph.D. student, managed to capture an astounding image of a single strontium atom with his DSLR camera. Named “A Single Atom in an Ion Trap”, the image shows a pale, blue dot visible to the naked eye. The dot is (quite unbelievably) an atom of infinitesimal size. Atoms have a diameter of about 0.5 nanometers. However, strontium atoms are relatively larger in size – but certainly not easily visible.

Nadlinger had trapped a positively charged strontium ion in an electric field as part of his quantum computing research. The picture was clicked using a 50mm lens and extension tubes.  The image won the first place in the science photography contest this year held by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Image Credit: David Nadlinger