Australian physicists use atoms to form a word

Truscott_Group from left to right: Dr Sean Hodgman, PhD student David Shin, Associate Professor Andrew Truscott, PhD students Bryce Henson and Roman Khakimov and Professor Ken Baldwin. Image: Stuart Hay, ANU.

Australian scientists have for the first time used a technique known as ghost imaging to create an image of an object from atoms.

The team of physicists at the Australian National University (ANU) say the atom-based result may lead to a new method for quality control of nanoscale manufacturing, including atomic scale 3D printing.

Here’s the image:

The ghost image. ANU

This is the first time that ghost imaging has been achieved using atoms although it has been demonstrated with light.

The experiment relied on separated pairs of atoms to generate an image of the ANU logo.

One atom in each pair was directed towards a mask with the letters ANU cut-out. Only atoms that pass through the mask reach a detector behind the mask.

Professor Ken Baldwin says the research may eventually be used for quality control in manufacturing microchips or nano devices.

“We might one day be able to detect in real time when a problem occurs in the manufacturing of a microchip or a nano device,” he says.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

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