Researchers capture a single atom's shadow, has implications for quantum computers

A very small atom can cast a very large shadow. Well, not literally, but figuratively. Researchers at Griffith University have managed to snap the first image of a single atom's shadow and, while the dark spot may be physically small, the implications for the field of quantum computing are huge. The team of scientists blasted a Ytterbium atom suspended in air with a laser beam. Using a Fresnel lens, they were able to snap a photograph of the dark spot left in the atom's wake as the laser passed over it. The practical applications could improve the efficiency of quantum computers, where light is often used to transfer information. Since atoms have well understood light absorption properties, predictions can be made about the depth of a shadow cast, improving communication between the individual atoms performing calculations. The research could even be applied to seemingly mundane and established fields like X-Ray imaging, by enabling us to find the proper intensity levels to produce a quality image while minimizing damage to cells. For more info, check out the current issue of Nature.