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Researchers have developed a new device that can measure and control a nanoparticle trapped in a laser beam with unprecedented sensitivity. The new technology could help scientists study a macroscopic particle's motion with subatomic resolution, a scale governed by the rules of quantum mechanics rather than classical physics.

The researchers from the University of Vienna in Austria and the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands report their new device in Optica, The Optical Society's journal for high impact research. Although the approach has been used with trapped atoms, the team is the first to use it to precisely measure the motion of an optically trapped nanoparticle made of billions of atoms.

"In the long term, this type of device could help us understand nanoscale materials and their interactions with the environment on a fundamental level," said research team leader Markus Aspelmeyer from the University of Vienna. "This could lead to new ways of tailoring materials by exploiting their nanoscale features.

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