A team at the Autonomous University of Madrid have created what they're calling the smoothest mirror surface ever made. It's flat down to the size scales of individual lead atoms, and was made by depositing lead onto silicon crystal at freakish temperatures of -173 to -133°C. This messes with the quantum properties of electrons in the lead and lets it settle without bunching up as it's warmed up. It's not shiny, or for checking out your hair-do though: the intention is to bend the compound mirror into a convex shape for use in a helium ion microscope. This'll work in similar ways and with similar magnification to an electron microscope, focusing helium ions instead of electrons, which don't damage delicate biological samples. The team's next task is to tackle the bending part. Smooth work, guys. [New Scientist]
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So are all the researches (and students maybe) at the Autonomous University robots?