Using laser light to move atoms in the nanoparticleScientist

Using laser light to move atoms in the nanoparticle


The wavelength of light, just about a millionth of a meter, was long thought to be a limiter for focusing light, and therefore of being able to observe something directly.

But that limit has been well and truly smashed by researchers who have built “the world’s smallest magnifying glass, which focuses light a billion times more tightly, down to the scale of single atoms.”

Scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Blackett Laboratory in England, and the Materials Physics Center and Donostia International Physics Center in Spain made the world’s tiniest optical cavity — small enough to hold nothing bigger than a single molecule — using highly conductive gold nanoparticles. Called a picocavity by the researchers, it opens “up new ways to study the interaction of light and matter, including the possibility of making the molecules in the cavity undergo new sorts of chemical reactions, which could enable the development of entirely new types of sensors.”

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