Various views of a 3D-printed object are captured by a single camera using a dome-shaped array of mirrors. Left: The raw image. Right: closeups of some of the individual views. (Image: Sanha Cheong, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)
Topics: Applied Physics, Atomic-Scale Microscopy, Materials Science, Optics
(Nanowerk News) When it goes online, the MAGIS-100 experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and its successors will explore the nature of gravitational waves and search for certain kinds of wavelike dark matter. But first, researchers need to figure out something pretty basic: how to get good photographs of the clouds of atoms at the heart of their experiment.
Researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory realized that task would be perhaps the ultimate exercise in ultra-low light photography.
But a SLAC team that included Stanford graduate students Sanha Cheong and Murtaza Safdari, SLAC Professor Ariel Schwartzman, and SLAC scientists Michael Kagan, Sean Gasiorowski, Maxime Vandegar, and Joseph Frish found a simple way to do it: mirrors. By arranging mirrors in a dome-like configuration around an object, they can reflect more light towards the camera and image multiple sides of an object simultaneously.
And, the team reports in the Journal of Instrumentation ("Novel light field imaging device with an enhanced light collection for cold atom clouds"), that there's an additional benefit. Because the camera now gathers views of an object taken from many different angles, the system is an example of “light-field imaging”, which captures not just the intensity of light but also which direction light rays travel. As a result, the mirror system can help researchers build a three-dimensional model of an object, such as an atom cloud.
How do you take a better image of atom clouds? Mirrors - lots of mirrors, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory