Physicists have tried for years to develop a beam of atoms that could be focused as easily as electrons and photons. The helium atoms are fired at 1 km/s through a micron diameter nozzle past a set of fresnel plates - concentric rings of material of varying thickness. As the beam passes the plates, the wave patterns of the atoms interfere with one another, focusing the beam to a spot 2 micrometers wide. As well as being 10 times narrower than previous atom beams, such a beam is also 1000 times more intense, and 100 million times more dense. The researchers hope that by using a smaller nozzle they should be able to focus the beam to submicron levels.