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Atomic Pen Uses Atoms For Pixels

An 'atomic pen' can print on a metal surface in a text size so small it uses individual atoms for dots. I'd like an estimate by someone who is an expert in typography; just exactly what point type is that?


(Complex Patterning by Vertical Interchange Atom Manipulation
Using Atomic Force Microscopy
)

Here's a part of the abstract published in Science by Osaka University researchers.

The ability to incorporate individual atoms in a surface following predetermined arrangements may bring future atom-based technological enterprises closer to reality. Here, we report the assembling of complex atomic patterns at room temperature by the vertical interchange of atoms between the tip apex of an atomic force microscope and a semiconductor surface. At variance with previous methods, these manipulations were produced by exploring the repulsive part of the short-range chemical interaction between the closest tip-surface atoms.

The process replaces individual atoms of tin with silicon; you see the atomic name abbreviation for silicon "Si" written in individual atoms on tin.

A researcher, Masayuki Abe, remarks that “It’s not possible to write any smaller than this.”

SF fans may recall the tiny micro-labeling of what appears to be a natural snake scale in Blade Runner.


(Micro label from Blade Runner)

From Science via pink tentacle.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/25/2008)

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