Itty bitty engine puts a single atom to work

heat engines

Heat engines, big and small, turn heat into mechanical work. The steam engine (left) pushes a piston that turns a wheel. A pint-sized version (right) sets an atom in motion to perform work.

ILLUSTRATIONS: J. HIRSHFELD; SOURCES: RACHEL CASIDAY AND REGINA FREY/WASHINGTON UNIV. IN ST. LOUIS; J. ROSSNAGEL, ET AL/ARXIV.ORG 2015

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