A team of physicists from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and the Madrid Institute of Advanced Studies in Nanoscience (IMDEA-Nanociencia) has created the smoothest surface ever, according to a recent article in Advanced Materials.
The mirror resembles a curved wafer made up of a silicon crystal with a thickness of 50 microns, and covered with a very fine layer of lead, 1 or 2 nanometres thick. To study the reflection on this metal, the scientists used helium atoms. Until now mirrors made solely from silicon reflected 1% of helium atoms, but by adding the layer of lead they have managed to achieve a reflection of up to 67%.The innovation is already being used in the design of the world's first atomic microscope.
Read the full article: A Quantum-Stabilized Mirror for Atoms. Advanced Materials, 20 (18): 3492. September 2008