Single atoms captured morphing into quantum waves in startling image

Atoms behaving like particles appear as a red dot, but spread into a wide blob when they act like a wave

Courtesy Joris Verstraten, et al

This is the clearest ever image of individual atoms behaving like a wave, as predicted by quantum mechanics. Such images could eventually be used to study this exotic and poorly understood quantum behaviour.

The fact that particles like atoms can behave like waves is a key insight of quantum theory. One specific shape of wave that an atom can adopt is known as a “wave packet”, which is like…

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