The World’s First MRI of a SINGLE Atom Is Here, and It Could Revolutionize Imaging
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The World’s First MRI of a SINGLE Atom Is Here, and It Could Revolutionize Imaging


Scientists have now performed an MRI…on
a single atom. The world’s smallest MRI, how cute is that?! This level of resolution is a breakthrough
for the world of microscopy, and has potential applications in all kinds of fields, from
quantum computing to drug development. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging,
and though it may be able to see things inside your body on the more macro scale, this picture
is actually the result of tiny shifts in your protons. As the name implies, an MRI scanner creates
an extremely strong magnetic field around whatever it’s trying to image. This temporarily re-aligns the protons in
your body with that magnetic field. Then the machine pulses the sample or the
patient with a different current—a radiofrequency—which pulls the protons slightly out of their alignment
with the magnetic field. After the brief radiofrequency pulse is over,
the protons snap back into alignment with the field, kind of like a rubber band that’s
stretched between two fingers snapping back into place after you pull it. The energy that’s released as the protons
move back into place with the magnetic field is what is detected and visualized by the
machine. Different tissues are distinguishable from
one another because their protons can take different amounts of time to snap back into
place, and release different amounts of energy when they do. But that’s on the scale of the human body,
full of protons. So, how do you take something like that and apply
it to a single atom? If you immediately pictured a tiny, miniature
version of an MRI machine, you’re not alone, I’m right there with you—but no, that’s
not how it works. Instead, the researchers who created this
technique altered an existing microscopy instrument—a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). STMs involve bringing the tip of the microscope
into contact with metal atoms at the surface of a material. The electron cloud of the atoms on the tip
of the microscope interact with the electron cloud of the atoms on the surface of the material. When voltage is applied to the tip, those
electron clouds become connected by an electric current. Then the electrons of the atoms in the material
‘quantum tunnel’ to the tip of the microscope, giving you a pretty beautiful picture. This kind of imaging is highly detailed, and
at its best gets down to about .1 nanometers, or an angstrom—which is definitely atomic scale. But there’s only so much information an
image like that contains. Enter: the atomic scale MRI. This joint research team from several institutions
around the world applied iron atoms to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, generating
a magnetic field. Further application of a radiofrequency then induced changes in the spin state of the atoms in the material. The difference in spins between the tip of
the microscope and the sample material, gives us a picture of the atom. This means big things in the world of tiny
science. The atomic MRI can image atoms on a sub-angstrom
level, smaller than ever before. It can tell us about their magnetic properties
and spin structures, which you might imagine could be hugely useful in quantum physics…particularly
quantum computing. This kind of computing relies heavily on the
spin dynamics of particles, and being able to understand and potentially even organize
individual atoms with this technology could drive unprecedented advancements in quantum tech. Atomic-scale peeks at magnetic properties
of molecules might help us with science on the nanoscale in fields like biology, too—this
new technique may help us see how proteins fold, something that could lead to the development
of better medicines. And while it’s very exciting to think about
the possibilities of this new tech, it’s not the most easy-to-use apparatus as of yet. The microscopic MRI uses an ultra-high custom
vacuum, requires cryogenic temperatures, and has so far only looked at very specific kinds
of materials. But the researchers hope to keep developing
their tiny MRI to be even simpler to use, continuing to see even more than ever before. If you want even more on exciting developments
in microscopy, check out this video over here, and if you have another technology you want
us to cover, let us know in the comments below. Make sure you subscribe to Seeker to know
when we peer even further down into the details of the universe, and as always, thanks for
watching. We’ll see you next time.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “The World’s First MRI of a SINGLE Atom Is Here, and It Could Revolutionize Imaging

  1. Hi there! We would just like to point out that the image at :26 of this episode is actually of the exciting atomic MRI scan, using electrons to image an atom, not protons. Our traditional MRI scanning methods use the energy exerted from protons during realignment to create an image of inside our bodies and that’s the kind of MRI scan that should have been shown here. We were too eager to share the news! Thanks for watching and read more here if you’re curious to know about MRI scanning: https://www.nibib.nih.gov/science-education/science-topics/magnetic-resonance-imaging-mri

  2. To me this makes me think of the possible capabilities on a larger or more extreme scale..meaning the whole concept of altering the physical state of something and recoiling back and seeing what happens..to me i think it would be a violent dangerous reaction or change to the object..which makes me think of a rail gun…and is it just me but i think this lovely lady is just too cute..if i saw her in public and new she wasnt with anyone i would ask her out and to come have fun time.

  3. If you're going to pick narrators based on sex, try finding one who doesn't speak like she's reading a Dr. Seuss book to a bunch of four year olds…

  4. This woman looks SO SJW woke…i can totally imagine her droning on about some movement or the climate or women's rights or islamophobia and telling me off if I ever meet her…

  5. Hold up…
    I just had to pause at 0:50 and ask…

    … WHAT?!?!?

    The explanation is hard enough, and then they add the visual aid, like thats any less confusing…Its not… Its worse…

  6. Could lead to better medicines……. AKA: More expensive medicines that will help the millions that can't afford it.

    The good news is we can all marvel at something other then graphene that is going to change the world as we know it. 0_o

  7. Great idea which is going to helpful to humanity. If western scientists are also after Religion like Arabs Africans the world would never get such technology innovations. Religion prevents human achievement , a fact

  8. 1900's: can see bacteria and can see all the planets in the solar system
    2019: can see indivisual atoms and can see black holes from over 1,000 lightyears away

  9. So an MRI basically makes every proton in my body spin around to face the same way all at once? The fact that that won't kill me instantly is incredible.
    Also I kind of want to eat that necklace.

  10. I love how borderless the scientific community gets at times. Really wish the rest of the world could work together for the benefit of all humanity just like this

  11. I have had MRIs of knees bilateral, feet bilateral, ankles bilateral, elbows & forearms bilateral, hands & wrists bilateral, neck and head/cranial with major and significant findings! It won my disability case in SSA Court! 💰♿ 💰

    It works! MRI is an awesome technology!

    Btw my piss glows in the dark now! 😆

  12. So my insurance makes me go through tons of PT before I can get an MRI on my knee which is in so much pain and still get a big bill but this stupid atom got a free MRI for no reason

  13. An atom looks like a planet🤔 “as above so below” also atom-adam we are little universes within a universe. For those that can receive it

  14. Soo I'm seeing that people are excited about us "seeing" an atom in the comments. I don't think that is the exciting thing about this because that had been done before. This is more like seeing the magnetic effect of an atom in sun-atomic scale, something I would argue is actually much more impressive and important for physics research.

  15. Big question. At time index 01:52. If that feusha colored stack of spheres on the sample tray are atoms, then what is the scanning tip made out of?

    In other words, is there a size disparity between atoms such that the scanning tip of the microscope would actually be that size compared to the atoms being scanned, or is this animation depicting objects that are not to scale? If this is drawn to scale, then the atoms making up the scanning tip must be really small compared to the atoms in the sample. Otherwise, this animation must not be to scale.

    Please explain.

  16. Just what our immoral, illogical, immature, greed and power driven, genocidal society needs. More highly advanced tech to destroy ourselves and everything around us faster than ever before. Outstanding 👌

  17. Hey, if it's gonna help people to enjoy healthy lifestyles like swimming, kayaking, sailing, sunbathing, biking, tennis, sailing and waterparks and make life simpler, easier, safer, cheaper, happier and more fun for all humans then it's worth it. God Bless

  18. You can see the electrons as they travel up toward the atomic pole. Like a smoke ring but converging, instead of diverging.

  19. april: first pictures of a black hole
    august: first pictures of single atoms
    december: first pictures of real cat girls

  20. Therein lies within this video the answer to free power & yet it does not consciously register to the many who listened.

  21. Should've called MRI NMRI, because yes, it has that other "scary" N word, Nuclear.
    Good stuff though, amazing.

  22. Hats off to the scientists burning the midnight oil so that we can have better lives. Science is a truly exciting field 👍😀

  23. Can an electromagnetic field that effects the spin state of atoms making our atoms align with the electromagnetic field, have more of
    an impact than we think. Can they for example play a role in helping our own human body to correct our health problems, diseases, conditions, and/or repair dna in some way?

    The spin cycle of an atom being re aligned with one another must give changes in the way these said atoms, which make up the human body, perform and operate together.

  24. I don't know what you were talking about..I never listened..I was totally looking at you…how beautiful you are!

  25. THE FALLEN ANGEL PROMETHEUS GAVE MANKIND FIRE (TECHNOLOGY) AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE FORBIDDEN WISDOM OF THE CREATOR.FACTS.BLESS UP.

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