Home Features Best of 2016 Best of 2016 // #91: Seeing a Single Photon

Best of 2016 // #91: Seeing a Single Photon

Best of 2016 // #91: Seeing a Single Photon

While you read this article, millions of photons are flooding into your eye.  In the 1940’s, expiriments showed that humans who fully adjusted to the dark could detect as few as a half dozen photons.  Is there a limit to how few we can see?  In July, we got our answer.

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In a paper published to Nature Communications, researchers proved the human eye is capable of detecting a single photon.  One.  This proves our eyes can see the absolute minimum amount of light possible.

Researchers in Vienna constructed a laser that could spit out one photon at a time – the build itself proving to be a challenge.  They put the laser in a lightproof room and had three subjects test their night-vision.  Over thousands of different trials, these three subjects we able to correctly identify the single photon’s deployment just over half of the time.

There’s 99 more stories from 2016.  Check out the Best of 2016 series here

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