IBM nanotechnologists create smallest 3D map of Earth

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IBM researchers used a new nanopatterning technique to create the "world' smallest" 3D map of the Earth. Approximately 1000 of them would fit on a single grain of salt. Separately, they also carved out a 25-nanometer tall model of the Matterhorn. A nanometer, of course, is one-billionth of a meter, so that's a 1:5 billion scale nano-mountain.

From IBM Research:
The core component of the new technique, which was developed by a team of IBM scientists, is a tiny, very sharp silicon tip measuring 500 nanometers in length and only a few nanometers at its apex...

The tip, similar to the kind used in atomic force microscopes, is attached to a bendable cantilever that controllably scans the surface of the substrate material with the accuracy of one nanometer–a millionth of a millimeter. By applying heat and force, the nano-sized tip can remove substrate material based on predefined patterns, thus operating like a "nanomilling" machine with ultra-high precision.

"IBM Research Creates World's Smallest 3D Map; Brings Low-Cost, Ease of Use to Creation of Nanoscale Objects"


  1. Wait, is this what those Swiss terrorists were trying to prevent? Those fiends at IBM are making tiny maps – they must be stopped!

    1. Presumably you did not watch the video? They mention rapid nano-fabrication being vital for testing the next generation of integrated circuitry and optical computing–technology that will enable us to watch cats on YouTube in even more places than ever.

  2. I could be wrong on this, please correct me if I am. If the scale is 1:5 billion, and a nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter, that would make Materhorn 5 meters tall.

    1. Well since the scale Matterhorn is 25 nanometers, that would imply the real thing is 125 meters. I think the article must be referring to the better known Matterhorn Bobsleds, not the actual mountain.

    2. If the model is 25 nanometers tall and the Matterhorn is ~ 4,500 meters tall then 1 nanometer represents 180 meters. So, the scale would be 1:180,000,000,000. Right? Do I need to go back to elementary school?

  3. I think a cooler way to think about it is that a the bond length between two atoms is generally in the range of 0.1 to 0.5 nanometers. That means the resolution of this nanopatterner is about 2-10 atoms.

  4. I’m more shocked that the Flat Earth Society has taken over nanoscale manufacturing. In my world a 3D map of the Earth would be a sphere.

  5. So glad IBM has the $$ to fund this kind of crap when they’re laying off and offshoring literally thousands of my former coworkers.

    1. In the long run without “this kind of crap” no cows will be orked at IBM at all. If back in the 1950s IBM had stuck to mechanical sorting machines and not invested in that newfangled electronic computer crap they would be a footnote in history by now.

    1. That’s because the Great Lakes are too AWESOME to be represented by such paltry media. ;)

      Also: okay, cool. Great. Another super-small, the world’s smallest whatever. Can we get on with the flying cars and transporters already? We’re already behind schedule.

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