Nanoscale snowman

Simon sez, "David Cox at the UK National Physical Laboratory has created this snowman, which is ~20µm high."

The snowman was made from two tin beads used to calibrate electron microscope astigmatism. The eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and the nose, which is under 1 µm wide (or 0.001 mm), is ion beam deposited platinum.

A nanomanipulation system was used to assemble the parts 'by hand' and platinum deposition was used to weld all elements together. The snowman is mounted on a silicon cantilever from an atomic force microscope whose sharp tip 'feels' surfaces creating topographic surveys at almost atomic scales.

Christmas 2009 : Educate + Explore : National Physical Laboratory (Thanks, Simon!)


    1. You don’t think a cure for cancer might be aided by our ability to manipulate very small things? Maybe the snowman should have been frowning, to show how serious research is. :(

  1. Thank you, jere7my, for pointing out that “nano” doesn’t apply here. Using the criteria here, I am a nanoscale person, I just happen to be 1.8 billion nm tall. I remember when everything tiny didn’t have nano tacked onto it. Michael Smith , perhaps on mercury you could get tin snowfall.

    1. “perhaps on mercury you could get tin snowfall”

      There was a report a few months ago about an exoplanet so hot it rained rock.

  2. Can somebody with more knowledge of microscopic things than I, compare this to the size of something else- compared to the size of an animal cell, or a virus, or bacterium or something?

    1. As near as I can figure, the head of the snowman is about twice the diameter of a red blood cell. But I’m no nanoscientist either.

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