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Topics: Atomic Physics, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics, Nanotechnology
Researchers at Griffith University working with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have unveiled a stunningly accurate technique for scientific measurements which uses a single atom as the sensor, with sensitivity down to 100 zeptoNewtons.
(Zepto = 10-21, or 0.000000000000000000001.)
Using highly miniaturised segmented-style Fresnel lenses - the same design used in lighthouses for more than a century - which enable exceptionally high-quality images of a single atom, the scientists have been able to detect position displacements with nanometre precision in three dimensions.
"Our atom is missing one electron, so it's very sensitive to electrical fields. By measuring the displacement, we've built a very sensitive tool for measuring electrical forces." Dr Erik Streed, of the Centre for Quantum Dynamics, explained.
"100 zeptoNewtons is a very small force. That's about the same as the force of gravity between a person in Brisbane and a person in Canberra. It can be used to investigate what's occurring on surfaces, which will help miniaturise ion trap type quantum computers and other quantum devices.
Scientists unveil high-sensitivity 3-D technique using single-atom measurements, Griffith University