As someone who struggles to take usable photographs of his cats, it's hard not to be dispirited when someone manages to take a flawless picture of a single atom. The winning image shows a strontium atom held by electric fields.
The top prize in an annual science photography competition run by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the United Kingdom has been taken out by a remarkable image of a single atom.
"We are looking for images that will demonstrate research in action", EPSRC described the photo that they want for the competition, which was announced in October previous year.
David Nadlinger University of Oxford
The image of a single positively-charged strontium atom, shows the atom held nearly motionless by fields emanating from the metal electrodes surrounding it.
Strontium atoms are relatively large, with radii around 215 billionths of a millimetre. The atom absorbs and reemits the light, and a camera can pick up the light, creating a one-of-a-kind photograph. The pale dot isn't especially spectacular by itself, but when you realize that it is the visual effect of a single atom, it is mind-blowing. Once the energized electrons give off enough light, it is now possible for even an ordinary camera to image the atom.
"The idea of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the miniscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality", said Nadlinger.More news: Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) Issues Earnings Results
Nadlinger used extension tubes, lens accessories that can increase the focal length of a lens and is often used for extreme close-up photography.
Tiny specks of energy just like this one are at the centre of so much of the stuff around us, and the thought that we can see this one makes our hearts hurt.
The intricate setup was housed inside an ultra-high vacuum chamber and Nadlinger took the photo through the window of the machinery, Science Alert said.More news: Barnaby Joyce digs in while Nationals debate forcing him out
"They show that our researchers want to tell the world about the beauty of science and engineering".More news: All eyes on North Koreans in pairs figure skating