Launched laser-cooled atoms are captured by a single, suspended, single-wall carbon nanotube charged to hundreds of volts. A captured atom spirals toward the nanotube (white path) and reaches the environs of the tube surface, where its valence electron (yellow) tunnels into the tube. The resulting ion (purple) is ejected and detected, and the dynamics at the nanoscale are sensitively probed.
"The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land." - T.H. Huxley, 1887