Contact: Laura Ost
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Caption: This animation shows rapid transport of a single ion over about 0.37 millimeters within 8 millionths of a second. The ion is held and moved with electric fields, its transport controlled by changing electric potentials 50 million steps per second. The blue ribbon illustrates the changing field potential moving along the track. When the potential minimum starts to move, the ion first lags behind, then accelerates to catch up with the minimum, charges ahead and gets decelerated, finally landing in the same place as the potential minimum. This cycle repeats at the natural oscillation frequency of the ion in the well. If the potential minimum stops moving exactly at the end of one of these cycles the ion stops in a state of minimal energy. This transport pattern can be realized at many length and time scales. The exact same principle can move a ping-pong ball inside a curved salad bowl with the ball at rest before and after the transport.
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