First Photograph of an Atom’s Shadow

This image might look like some kind of screenshot from an old 16-bit video game, but it’s actually the first photo ever made of an atom’s shadow. Researchers at Griffith University in Australia suspended a ytterbium atom in midair, shot it with a laser beam, and then used a Fresnel lens on the other side to snap a photograph of the dark shadow left by the atom. Scientist Erik Streed has a writeup explaining how they accomplished it and the project’s implications for other research.

Snapping an atom’s shadow? Now that’s a first (via Engadget)

Image credits: Photograph by Kielpinksi Group/Centre for Quantum Dynamics

  • Peter Croft

    Don’t mention that Griffith University is in Australia, will you PetaPixel? This is USA all over – if it didn’t happen in a US university, it’s not worth mentioning.

    At least you showed the picture, but how about crediting AUSTRALIA?

  • Michael Zhang

    Alrighty, updated the post to credit Australia :D

  • Jazmine Ross

    Is there a reason they used ytterbium in this experiment? I was just wondering if it was possble with any element like…hydrogen.

  • Jazmine Ross

    Mostly im wondering if it has to do with it forming solids. Do gaseous elements have shadows too?