Researchers have built a superconducting camera with 400,000 pixels, which is so sensitive it can detect single photons. It comprises a grid of superconducting wires with no resistance until a photon strikes one or more wires. This shuts down the superconductivity in the grid, sending a signal. By combining the locations and intensities of the signals, the camera generates an image.
The researchers who built the camera, from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) say the architecture is scalable, and so this current iteration paves the way for even larger-format superconducting cameras that could make detections across a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This would be ideal for astronomical ventures such as imaging faint galaxies or extrasolar planets, as well as biomedical research using near-infrared light to peer into human tissue.
The connection between relativity and quantum mechanics has been a black box for the world of physics for decades. That partially stems from the difficulty in collecting data on systems that interface between the two of them. Relativity is the realm of the supermassive, while quantum mechanics can best be described as the realm of the minuscule. But, there is, in fact, one particular realm where they overlap. One of the results of relativity is that gravity can affect the flow of time. Commonly known as “time dilation,” this effect has now been studied by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the US using an extraordinarily accurate atomic clock.
Physicists have developed an atomic clock so accurate that it would be off by less than a single second in 14 billion years. That kind of accuracy and precision makes it more than just a timepiece. It’s a powerful scientific instrument that could measure gravitational waves, take the measure of the Earth’s gravitational shape, and maybe even detect dark matter.