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David Nadlinger was keen to discuss how he put together the photo that offers viewers a glimpse into an atom that forms the building blocks of life.
He declared: “It’s exciting to find a picture that resonates with other people that shows what I spend my days and nights working on.
“The idea of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the minuscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality.
“A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed the numbers to be on my side, and when I set off to the lab with a camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with this particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.”
The graduate’s favourite part of displaying the winning picture was “the opportunity to excite people about my research, more than winning a competition”, he explained.
Mr Nadlinger’s course revolves around trapping atoms – he used a laser light to cause the building block of mater to exude photons.
The EPSRC helps to fund scientific research in the UK and chose the graduate’s picture from more than 100 entries in the competition.
Two metal needles on either side of the strontium atom are responsible for producing electric fields that put it in stasis.
The distance between the two needles is roughly 2millimetres.
A blue-violet laser is shining down on the atom – the release of photons allows the subject to be captured.
The project was cooled and was housed inside an ultra-high vacuum cleaner.
Other photos submitted as part of the competition include a robot taking a selfie and a display of 3D-printed aluminium cubes.