While researching new potential applications for indium, I’m generally more interested in the ends than the means. In a departure from that outlook, two related studies have me more interested in the experimental method.
Researchers at Graz University of Technology in Austria have been experimenting with intermolecular vibrations of indium atoms by trapping them in superfluid helium nanodroplettes. I’m inclined to ask “why?”, but instead I pose the question: how is this done?
According to the article published by Nature Research (boiled down to my understanding of the subject), nanodroplettes of helium were introduced into an atmosphere of indium atoms, which were evaporated into a high vacuum chamber. The helium was cooled through expansion and evaporative cooling to bring it down to ~0.4K. The atoms of indium found their way into the helium nanodrops and, from there, the indium atoms were free to move without the typical restriction of surrounding materials, since superfluid helium causes little inhibition of the atoms. The atoms could then be excited and observed.
I hope you find this as interesting as I do. Please, check out both of these fine articles when you have a chance!
First Article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06413-9
Second Article: https://physics.aps.org/articles/v13/41