A remarkable photo of a single atom trapped by electric fields has just won first prize in a well-known scientific photography competition. The photo is titled “A Single Atom in an Ion Trap” and was taken by David Nadlinger of the University of Oxford.
“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,” Nadlinger told the EPSRC in a press release. “When I set off to the lab with camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with the particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.”
Nadlinger’s grand prize photo shows an atom as a speck of light between two metal electrodes placed about 2mm (0.078in) apart.