You’ve heard of MRI machines in hospitals being used to take images of internal body parts for diagnosing diseases in medicine, but scientists have now shown that the same process can also be used to visualize the magnetic field of a single atom:
Using a new technique, scientists have performed the world's smallest magnetic resonance imaging to capture the magnetic fields of single atoms. It's an incredible breakthrough that could improve quantum research, as well as our understanding of the Universe on subatomic scales.
You're probably most familiar with magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, as a method used to image internal body structures in medicine. An MRI machine uses highly powerful magnets to induce a strong magnetic field around the body, forcing the spin of the protons in the nuclei of your body's hydrogen atoms to align with the magnetic field, all without producing side-effects.
But for medical MRI scanners, this needs to be occurring en masse, with billions of protons, for the sensors to detect it.
To bring the process down to much finer scales, the researchers used a scanning tunnelling microscope, an instrument that can image surfaces at the atomic scale by running an extremely fine needle over them.
(via Science Alert )
image credit : Nature Physics, 2019 via Science Alert