The Center for Quantum Nanoscience (QNS) inside the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) at Ewha Woman’s University- researchers have made a severe scientific breakthrough by performing the world’s smallest magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In a global collaboration with colleagues from the U.S., QNS scientists used their new method to visualize the single atoms in the magnetic field.
MRIs are routinely performed in hospitals as part of imaging for diagnostics. MRIs detect the density of spins the fundamental magnets in electrons and protons within the human body. Technically, billions of spins are required for an MRI scan. The brand new findings, revealed right now within the journal Nature Physics, present that this course of is now additionally potential for an individual atom on a surface. To do that – the team used a scanning tunneling microscope, which consists of anatomically sharp metallic tip that permits researchers to image and probe single atoms by scanning the tip throughout the surface.
The two elements that had been investigated in this work, iron, and titanium, are both magnetic. By precise preparation of the sample, the atoms had been readily seen within the microscope. The researchers’ then used the microscope’s tip like an MRI machine to map the 3D magnetic field created by the atoms with exceptional resolution. To take action, they attached another spin cluster to the sharp metallic tip of their microscope. Just like regularly magnet, the two spins would entice or repel one another relying on their relative positions. By sweeping the tip spin cluster over the atom on the floor, the researchers had been in a place to map out the magnetic interplay. Lead author Dr. Philip Willke of QNS says, “It seems that the magnetic interaction we measured is determined by the properties of each spin, the one on the tip and the one on the sample. For instance, the sign that we see for iron atoms is vastly totally different from that for titanium atoms. This enables us to differentiate completely different sorts of atoms by their magnetic field signature, and makes our method very powerful.”