Cheuk builds new fermion microscope

June 3, 2015

Lawrence Cheuk

Fermions are the building blocks of matter, interacting in a multitude of permutations to give rise to the elements of the periodic table. Without fermions, the physical world would not exist. Examples of fermions are electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, and atoms consisting of an odd number of these elementary particles. But atoms are extremely sensitive to light: When a single photon hits an atom, it can knock the particle out of place — an effect that has made imaging individual fermionic atoms devilishly hard. Now a team of MIT physicists, led by physics professor Martin Zwierlein and grad student Lawrence Cheuk, has built a microscope that is able to see up to 1,000 individual fermionic atoms. The researchers devised a laser-based technique to trap and freeze fermions in place, and image the particles simultaneously. Read the full article at MIT News. Photo: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT


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