Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Single molecules in a quantum movie

26.03.2012
The quantum physics of massive particles has intrigued physicists for more than 80 years, since it predicts that even complex particles can exhibit wave-like behaviour – in conflict with our everyday ideas of what is real or local.
An international team of scientists now succeeded in shooting a movie which shows the build-up of a matter-wave interference pattern from single dye molecules which is so large (up to 0.1 mm) that you can easily see it with a camera.

This visualizes the dualities of particle and wave, randomness and determinism, locality and delocalization in a particularly intuitive way. Seeing is believing: the movie by Thomas Juffmann et al. will be published on March 25 in "Nature Nanotechnology".

A quantum premiere with dye molecules as leading actors
Physicist Richard Feynman once claimed that interference effects caused by matter-waves contain the only mystery of quantum physics. Understanding and applying matter waves for new technologies is also at the heart of the research pursued by the Quantum Nanophysics team around Markus Arndt at the University of Vienna and the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology.

These are selected frames of a movie showing the buildup of a quantum interference pattern from single phthalocyanine molecules. Credit: Image credits: University of Vienna/Juffmann et al. (Nature Nanotechnology 2012)

The scientists now premiered a movie which shows the build-up of a quantum interference pattern from stochastically arriving single phthalocyanine particles after these highly-fluorescent dye molecules traversed an ultra-thin nanograting. As soon as the molecules arrive on the screen the researchers take live images using a spatially resolving fluorescence microscope whose sensitivity is so high that each molecule can be imaged and located individually with an accuracy of about 10 nanometers. This is less than a thousandth of the diameter of a human hair and still less than 1/60 of the wavelength of the imaging light.

A breath of nothing

In these experiments van der Waals forces between the molecules and the gratings pose a particular challenge. These forces arise due to quantum fluctuations and strongly affect the observed interference pattern. In order to reduce the van der Waals interaction the scientists used gratings as thin as 10 nanometers (only about 50 silicon nitride layers). These ultra-thin gratings were manufactured by the nanotechnology team around Ori Cheshnovski at the Tel Aviv University who used a focused ion beam to cut the required slits into a free-standing membrane.

Tailored nanoparticles

Already in this study the experiments could be extended to phthalocyanine heavier derivatives which were tailor-made by Marcel Mayor and his group at the University of Basel. They represent the most massive molecules in quantum far-field diffraction so far.

Motivation and continuation

The newly developed and combined micro- and nanotechnologies for generating, diffracting and detecting molecular beams will be important for extending quantum interference experiments to more and more complex molecules but also for atom interferometry.

The experiments have a strongly didactical component: they reveal the single-particle character of complex quantum diffraction patterns on a macroscopic scale that is visible to the eye. You can see them emerge in real-time and they last for hours on the screen. The experiments thus render the wave-particle duality of quantum physics particularly tangible and conspicuous.

The experiments have a practical side, too. They allow to access molecular properties close to solid interfaces and they show a way towards future diffraction studies at atomically thin membranes.

After March 26th 2012, the movie will be accessible through Nature Nanotechnology and through http://www.quantumnano.at.

This project was supported by the Austrian FWF Z149-N16 (Wittgenstein), ESF/FWF/SNF MIME (I146) and the Swiss SNF in the NCCR "Nanoscale Science".

Publication in "Nature Nanotechnology" Real-time single-molecule imaging of quantum interference: Thomas Juffmann, Adriana Milic, Michael Müllneritsch, Peter Asenbaum, Alexander Tsukernik, Jens Tüxen, Marcel Mayor, Ori Cheshnovsky and Markus Arndt. Nature Nanotechnology (2012). DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2012.34. Online Publication: 25.3.2012

Scientific contact
Prof. Markus Arndt (Quantum interference)
T 43-1-4277-512 10
markus.arndt@univie.ac.athttp://www.quantumnano.at
Prof. Ori Cheshnovski (Nanofabrication)
T 972-3-6408325
orich@chemsg1.tau.ac.il
http://www.tau.ac.il/chemistry/cheshn
Prof. Marcel Mayor (Chemical synthesis)
T 41-61-267-10-06
Marcel.Mayor@unibas.ch
http://www.chemie.unibas.ch/~mayor/index.html

Markus Arndt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.univie.ac.at

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht New functional principle to generate the „third harmonic“
16.02.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>