Scientist Gets Photo of a Single Atom

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by rgMekanic, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. rgMekanic

    rgMekanic [H]ard|News Staff Member

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    A student at the University of Oxford managed to take a photo of a single floating atom with an ordinary camera. PhD candidate David Nadlinger used long exposure to capture the image of a single strontium atom illuminated by a laser while suspended in an ion trap. The photo win David the top prize in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's (EPSRC) photography competition.

    Quite the incredible image for sure. Being that photography is something I am passionate about, I looked to see what equipment was used to take this photo. David Nadlinger states he used a Canon 5D Mk II, with an EF 50mm 1.8 with extension tubes, and 2 flashes with colored gels.

    David Nadlinger, explained how the photograph came about: “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. A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed the numbers to be on my side, and when I set off to the lab with camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with this particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.”
     
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  2. bugleyman

    bugleyman [H]ard|Gawd

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    This doesn't seem like a big deal. ;)
     
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  3. viper1152012

    viper1152012 Gawd

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    With a ordinary 1000 dollar camera setup + Lab....

    Everyday science...
     
  4. Rahh

    Rahh [H]ard|Gawd

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    "ORDINARY CAMERA" HA! That would be a smart phone and then I might be impressed.
     
  5. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    *cringe* *twitch* GAH!!!!!!!!

    This is not a picture of a single atom, this is capturing the emission spectra that an atom creates.
     
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  6. CaptNumbNutz

    CaptNumbNutz My Cannon Balls Sunk My Fail Ship

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    The lighting used makes that atom appear larger than it actually is. Neat affect nonetheless.

    If you look at other object's in that picture for size reference... those screws are at least 2-3mm wide, what appears to be 24 gauge or smaller wire about 1mm wide. Those needles on either side might be 1/10th of a mm wide and that speck of an atom appears to be 1/10th of that distance. That's still way too big to be an atom. In effect, they are only capturing all the excess light being reflected off of it.
     
  7. greenman

    greenman Limp Gawd

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    *squints*
    Where?
     
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  8. Spartacus

    Spartacus [H]ard|Gawd

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    That was my first thought exactly.

    The atom appears much too large compared to the nuts & bolts.

    .
     
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  9. BSmith

    BSmith [H]ard|Gawd

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    That is the truth. That "dot" is huge. It is not the atom. Of course part of the size might be the resolution of the camera limiting it.
     
  10. Sparky

    Sparky 2[H]4U

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    damn I cant see it
     
  11. Master_shake_

    Master_shake_ Little Bitch

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    was gonna say.

    compared to the objects around it that atom must be fucking massive.

    was literally about to check the atomic weight on strontium.
     
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  12. TrailRunner

    TrailRunner Limp Gawd

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    By definition, what you 'see' is light being reflected off an object, into your retinas. A digital camera 'picture' is light reflected off an object, through the camera's lens, onto an image sensor.

    This is the light of a laser reflected by a single atom, through a camera's lens, captured by the sensor. In the most technical and real way, this is a photo of an atom.
     
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  13. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The pixels on the camera sensor are magnitudes too large to capture a picture of a single atom.. and will be for the foreseeable future UNLESS you have a lens that can magnify the atom to be large enough to be captured. And that ain't happening on lenses available to the public or to anybody for that matter.

    In fact, the smaller you make the sensor pixels the worse the light sensitivity is. And the other problem is the lenses. You MUST have very, very, very, very, very expensive lenses that can resolve the captured images properly on super dense camera sensors. Something that can capture a single atom really doesn't exist unless you have magnified it greatly.. and extension tubes are no way going to get you there.

    You need something more along the lines of the magnification of an electron microscope, not the maybe 2-5x magnification that extension tubes can get you (and that is IF you stack lenses backwards).
    If you go much higher than that you have to have super long exposure times AND it would be impossible to focus except by trial/error because you would not be able to see any light through the viewfinder.. basically full manual camera settings at that point.
     
  14. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire 2[H]4U

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    This is in an ion trap. But aren't traps gay?
     
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  15. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Problem is.. lasers wreak havok with camera sensors and your eyes... so if you capture a picture of something with a laser reflected off of it, it is going to just be a huge glare compared to what you are trying to capture.
     
  16. wyqtor

    wyqtor Limp Gawd

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    How is this even possible? The radius of the atom is smaller than the wavelength of visible light.
     
  17. CaptNumbNutz

    CaptNumbNutz My Cannon Balls Sunk My Fail Ship

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    It's that single pixel of light inbetween the two needle like things in the center. Again, keep in mind you are seeing a lighting trick to make it thousands of times bigger than it actually is.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  18. Sikkyu

    Sikkyu I Question Reality

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    /r/iamverysmart
     
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  19. Ziontrain

    Ziontrain Guest

    Notification when theres a photo of Eve
     
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  20. FortTaylor

    FortTaylor n00bie

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    In the same way that every photo is a photo of atoms? Just with a lot less clarity and focus.
     
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  21. bugleyman

    bugleyman [H]ard|Gawd

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    They're kinda cheating...it isn't actually the atom being photographed. Not exactly.
     
  22. THRESHIN

    THRESHIN 2[H]4U

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    He used the 50mm f1.8? Way to take a nice pic with one of the cheapest lenses out there :p

    But seriously, it's not that bad. I have the same one. It's cheap and does it's job well. I was just surprised to see that particular lens on that camera body.
     
  23. rgMekanic

    rgMekanic [H]ard|News Staff Member

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    It isn't called the plastic fantastic for nothing
     
  24. THRESHIN

    THRESHIN 2[H]4U

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    That's a new one on me :p everyone I know just calls it a nifty fifty...like all the other 50mm's.

    I'm getting rid of mine soon. Got a used sigma 30mm f1.4. I can't go back :p
     
  25. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal [H]ard|Gawd

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    . . .you mean like happy?
     
  26. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    his camera has a stuck pixel
     
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  27. greenman

    greenman Limp Gawd

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    /thread
     
  28. theBrownLlama

    theBrownLlama Limp Gawd

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    naked eye = hehehe. nope.

    now , making minature molecular models machines , that is cool
     
  29. spugm1r3

    spugm1r3 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I was going to say, without diving too deep into the matrix, we don't ever actually "see" objects, merely the perception of light of light reflecting off things with mass. But don't latch onto this tangent, unless someone is proposing a whiskey-soaked [H]ardOCP event to discuss the nature of existence.
     
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  30. katanaD

    katanaD [H]ard|Gawd

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  31. cyberguyz

    cyberguyz Limp Gawd

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    50mm on a full frame like the 5D MkIII would yield pretty much a 1-1 representation with no real magnification. I'm surprised he didn't use something like a fast macro-friendly lens for something like that. Having a body like that I would expect he has something more suitable in his kid (though an f1.8 50mm lens is pretty much cheaping out - did he blow his wad on the body?). I have an old-style FX 50mm 1.8 for my Nikon dx camera and it cost less than $200 CA new.
     
  32. otherweeb

    otherweeb Gawd

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    Ions are indiscriminate, they'll bond with anthing
     
  33. serpretetsky

    serpretetsky [H]ard|Gawd

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    If you want to see something that is angularly smaller ( like how the moon and sun are angularly about the same size) go outside at night and look at the star Deneb. It is smaller than strontium from 10cm away.
    Code:
    Distance to Deneb (lower bound) = 1000 light years = 9e+18 m
    Diameter of Deneb = 2 * 203 solar radius =  2.82e+11 m
    
    Angular Size of Deneb(radians) ~ 2.82e+11m / 9e+18m = 3e-8
    
    (Assumed) Distance to strontium = 10cm
    Diameter of strontium ~ 200 pm *2
    
    Angular Size of Stontium(radians) ~ 2*200e-12 m / 10e-2m = 4e-8
    
     
  34. serpretetsky

    serpretetsky [H]ard|Gawd

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    I'm assuming you are asking how is the light even interacting with the atom? With reflection, I believe you are correct in that very little light would actually reflect from the atom because the wavelength is so much bigger than the atom (gamma rays would probably reflect much nicer).

    However, I'm not as familiar with absorption and emission. Perhaps they specially chose to go with absorption and re-emission because they knew the atom would absorb and emit a lot more light then if they had attempted to reflect visible frequencies.