Light has been concentrated down to smaller than a single atom by researchers with the help of the strange properties of tiny particles of gold, allowing them to observe individual chemical bonds inside molecules, and making room for new ways to study matter and light.

For hundreds of years scientists believed that light like all waves cannot be focused down smaller than its wavelength just below a millionth of a meter. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have recently developed the world’s smallest magnifying glass, capable of focusing light a billion times more tightly, down to the scale of single atoms.

The team, in collaboration with European colleagues used highly conductive gold nanoparticles in order to make the world’s tiniest optical cavity, so small that it only allows a single molecule to fit within it.


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Image Credit:    NanoPhotonics Cambridge/Bart deNijs

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