Posted: December 4, 2009

The world's smallest snowman

(Nanowerk News) The folks at the at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in London have made what surely must be the world's smallest sbowman:
nano snowman
The snowman is made of two tiny tin beads, normally used to calibrate electron microscope lenses, which were welded together with platinum. (Image: Dr Cox, NPL)
The snowman is 10 µm across, 1/5th the width of a human hair.
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, 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.
The techniques used to create the Nano scale snowman are employed by NPL:
– To make and fine tune Atomic Force Microscope cantilevers for measuring surface topography.
– To manufacture nano scale SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices) for a wide range of future metrological applications including spintronics, single particle detection, NEMS and quantum information processing.
– To measure magnetic properties of very small magnetic systems using quantum hall probes
Source: NPL