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 Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>