Scientists in Ohio and France have explained some strange atomic behavior, and made a discovery that could ultimately make MRI images sharper. This graphic depicts the quantum mechanical principle of super-adiabaticity, which was responsible for the behavior of atoms in some nuclear magnetic resonance experiments. If the trajectory of the atoms during an experiment were mapped on a globe, then the purpose of an adiabatic experiment is to move the atoms being studied from one point on the globe to another--slowly, and following a very carefully designed path (gray line). With super-adiabaticity, the atoms follow a different--sometimes, wildly different--path (orange line), but still end up at the right destination.
Credit: Image courtesy of Philip Grandinetti, Ohio State University.