10 Most Fascinating Microscopic Things Ever Created

1World's Smallest Snowman

In 2009, scientists created the world’s smallest “snowman,” measuring about a fifth of the width of a human hair. Experts at the National Physical Laboratory in West London made the miniature figure which is just 0.01mm across. Far from the thrill of rolling balls of snow around a field to build their masterpiece, it was assembled using tools designed for manipulating nanoparticles.

The snowman is made of two tiny tin beads – normally used to calibrate electron microscope lenses – which were welded together with platinum. A focused ion beam was used to carve the snowman’s eyes and smile, and to deposit a tiny blob of platinum for the nose. It was put together by Dr David Cox, a member of the Quantum Detection group at the laboratory, who also took the picture.


2World's Smallest Sculpture (crushed while being photographed)

In April 2015, an artist created what is being called the world’s smallest sculpture only for it to be accidentally crushed by a finger while being photographed. Jonty Hurwitz’s creations are so tiny they can rest on a human hair and are the same size of an ant’s head.

The sculptures are less than 1mm tall and are produced via a process called nano-painting. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye so they must be viewed and photographed under a microscope. Mr. Hurwitz used a 3D printing technology to produce them.

Having spent months working on the pieces, the 45-year-old from Chichester, West Sussex, took them to a photographer to have them pictured under a microscope. Unfortunately, within minutes, his work had been destroyed by the stroke of the lab technician’s finger.


3The Smallest Bible in the World

You can’t really read it, but that’s not the point. Researchers at the Russell Berrie The Nanotechnology Institute in Israel engraved the Hebrew Bible on a chip the size of a grain of sugar in order to demonstrate the scale that they work in.

The Nano Bible is written on an ultra thin silicon wafer coated in a layer of gold that is less than 100 atoms thick. To engrave the Hebrew letters, the researchers used a focused ion beam to carve away just the gold layer. The team described the process of engraving the chip (a blend of modern technology and ancient methods) as having “poetic beauty.”

The Nano Bible is displayed in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum.


4Smallest Race Car

At just 100-micrometers wide, this microscopic race car, created by researchers at the Vienna University of Technology in 2012, was built “using a nanoscale 3D printer. Like a conventional 3D printer, resin is used to make shapes, but unlike a conventional 3D printer, the resin is hardened with a laser.”


5World's Smallest Thinker

In 2007, Korean researchers crafted a microscopic version of Rodin’s famed sculpture “The Thinker” (originally sculpted in 1880) using lasers. It’s about twice the size of a red blood cell at 20 millionths of a meter high. Muscles and even toes are visible in the tiny model.

The replica was scanned and printed into a version 93,000 times smaller than the roughly 6-foot-high original.


6World's Smallest Postal Service

If you truly believe great things come in small packages, then you’ll want to use the World’s Smallest Postal Service to surprise your loved ones.

The World’s Smallest Postal Service was created by San-Francisco-based postmistress Lea Redmond, who decided to put the crazy idea into practice as soon as it popped into her head. She just strapped her small desk to her back, hopped on her bicycle and set-up shop in one of the local cafes. Since then, she’s come to realize many people are charmed by her miniature postal service.

At the World’s Smallest Postal Service, your letters are written in tiny letters, carefully wrapped, and sealed with a miniature stamp bearing the sender’s initial. To make sure the tiny messages don’t get lost in the traditional mail, they are packed in transparent envelopes and equipped with a magnifying glass for identifying the mailing address.


7World's Smallest Movie

It’s not a joke, this movie was really made by moving single atoms around and filming them with the help of a huge microscope.

IBM is exploring new possibilities of atomic-scale memory. So hit the play button and meet the boy who befriended an atom.


83D Bull Sculpture

Back in 2001, a team of Japanese engineers created the smallest statue ever –  a three-dimensional bull the size of a red blood cell. It was etched in plastic by engineers at Osaka University in Japan.

Measuring only 10 by 7 micrometers (one micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter) the bull is the smallest truly three-dimensional sculpture ever created.


9World's Smallest Working Model Train Set

Measuring a tiny 1/8 inch by quarter of 1/4 inch, this carefully crafted piece of engineering is the world’s smallest working train model. The five-carriage train, which is 35,200 times smaller than a real train, nips around an oval route even taking in a ride through a tunnel on its 3/4 inch track.

Created by New Jersey train enthusiast David Smith, the miniscule model was built using nothing fancier than a crafting knife and a steady hand. Powered by a standard 2 inch long rotating motor head and carved out of moldable plastic, the model train cost David just over £6 to make.


10Microscopic Origami

Shoji Takeuchi of the University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues, took the art of origami to new heights – or, technically, new smalls. The team managed to create microscopic origami folds using tissue cultures.

They created flat origami designs by cutting thin plastic sheets, then grew cells that crossed the seams of the tiny plates. The first clips in this video use animal connective tissue cells (which typically help wounds heal) to make the patterns bend when nudged. However, in later examples, the flexible joints fold automatically when rat heart cells are used.

Takeuchi and his colleagues hope the process could eventually help create artificial blood vessels as well as other biological tissue.


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