Researchers generate, for the first time, a vortex beam of atoms and molecules

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Vortices may conjure a mental image of whirlpools and tornadoes—spinning bodies of water and air—but they can also exist on much smaller scales. In a new study published in Science, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science, together with collaborators from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University, have created, for the first time, vortices made of a single atom. These vortices could help answer fundamental questions about the inner workings of the subatomic world and be used to enhance a variety of technologies—for example, by providing new capabilities for atomic microscopes.

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