Leonardo da Vinci's inscrutable Mona Lisa has been recreated in miniature on a tiny & # 39; quantum canvas & # 39; that is the width of a human hair.
Physicists used lasers to make a reproduction of da Vinci's famous masterpiece in an ultra-cold blob of gaseous quantum dust.
The art is drawn by projecting the famous image backwards with a microscope to the rear – to make it small – and then photographing the result.
The lasers work on the strange properties of quantum matter to change the density of the atoms, creating different shaded pixels.
Researchers have copied dozens of other images using the technique – including Van Gogh & # 39; s Starry Night and a photo by one of quantum physicists.
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In the perfect mix of model and medium, the inscrutable Mona Lisa is drawn on an equally enigmatic & # 39; quantum canvas & # 39; (photo) that is smaller than a human hair
Physicist Tyler Neely from the University of Queensland made the minute art by cooling rubidium gas to just a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero, the coldest temperature possible.
& # 39; The gas does not freeze because it is too diluted, but behaves like a blob of gaseous quantum dust, & # 39; said Dr. Neely.
& # 39; We then place the image on a projector that is lit by a laser, but instead of projecting it to be large, we reverse it through a microscope to make the image small, & # 39; he added.
& # 39; This light stamps the image on an area of about 100 microns wide. & # 39;
This is as small as a human hair, varying from 17-181 microns, so that the works are hardly visible to the naked eye – with each pixel only 50 atoms wide.
The strange quantum that the investigator canvas forms for these artworks is a type of Bose-Einstein condensate – the mysterious fifth state of matter, in addition to solids, liquids, gases and plasmas.
They form when matter approaches absolute zero (-273 ° C / -459 ° F), where atoms hardly move relative to each other and clump together and act as if they were a single entity.
These materials have weird quantum properties that are widely visible – including being able to flow without friction as a so-called & # 39; superfluid & # 39 ;.
It was these unusual traits that Dr. Neely and colleagues were investigating when they discovered how to create a new art form.
& # 39; We never tried this – originally we wanted to better understand the unsolved mysteries of how fluids flowed, & # 39; said Dr. Neely.
& # 39; We hoped to gain new insights into how our daily world emerges from the microscopic quantum world, and to help us create new quantum-enhanced technologies.
& # 39; But while we were busy, we happened to have some of & # 39; created the world's smallest masterpieces. & # 39;
Researchers have copied dozens of other images using the technology – including Van Gogh's Starry Night and a photo by one of the quantum physicists (photo)
& # 39; We then place the image on a projector that is lit by a laser, but instead of projecting it large, we send it back through a microscope to make the image small, & # 39; said Dr. Neely (Pictured, an image on the researchers & # 39; digital micro-mirror device)
Making art is not as simple as projecting light onto the material, such as projecting a film onto a cinema screen.
Instead, the technique manipulates a strange quantum property of the Bose-Einstein condensate – until the atoms are measured, they have no particular position.
Instead, they behave as if they were scattered throughout the system.
However, when researchers shine lasers in matter, the light works to measure the system, revealing that the atoms are not where the lasers shine.
As a result, the atoms are focused in the dark areas of the image and thus the artwork is drawn.
& # 39; The condensate state of Bose-Einstein is destroyed by illuminating it with light, so that the quantum state coincides with the act of measuring, & # 39; Dr. told Neely New Atlas.
The shadows in the images & # 39; therefore represent the density of the atoms & # 39; he added.
Although the images produced are in black and white only, researchers can create color versions by creating three different images – one for shades of blue, green and red – and then combing them with a computer.
These first images demonstrate the potential of quantum matter as a new material to produce artworks, the researchers said.
& # 39; Expanding the creative expression of this medium is the next step & # 39 ;, said Dr. Neely.
We now want to collaborate with an artist to help us realize a creative vision for this technology. & # 39;
WHAT ARE BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATES?
Condensates from Bose-Einstein are ultra-cold clouds with atoms that were first theorized by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein 71 years ago.
In this state, the condensates are a & # 39; superfluid & # 39; with a zero viscosity.
This allows the atoms to move without friction as if they are all one solid substance.
They can then be perceived by scientists as waves rather than particles, while rows move together as & # 39; mysterious waveforms & # 39 ;.
Researchers hope to study them to understand fundamental principles about how gravity interacts with the smallest particles.
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