It’s a nano chisel of course but it’s still disconcerting and amusing to think of IBM using a ‘stone age tool’. A March 11, 2014 news item on Nanowerk describes the project for which this chisel is being used,
IBM scientists are partnering with National Geographic Kids to set a Guinness World Records title for the world’s smallest magazine cover.
IBM scientists have invented a tiny chisel with a nano-size tip 100,000 times smaller than a sharpened pencil point. Using this tip the scientists will etch the magazine cover onto sliver of polymer (plastic) called polyphthalaldehyde. If they are successful, the cover will be so small that 2,000 of them could fit on a grain of salt.
The March 6, 2014 IBM news release, which originated the news item, describes the technology in more detail,
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 or 3D printer with ultra-high precision.
Similar to using 3D printer, more material can be removed to create complex 3D structures with nanometer precision by modulating the force or by readdressing individual spots.
After it’s miniaturized, the tiny cover will be unveiled on April 25 at the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival [held April 26-27, 2014] in Washington DC. If you plan to attend the event stop by the IBM and National Geographic Kids booth to meet the scientist who created the cover and to see it for yourself.
IBM scientists see more applications in their chisel’s future than magazine covers and maps (a previous demonstration of the chisel’s abilities, a video about that project follows this excerpt from the news release) Note: A link has been removed,
This new capability may impact the prototyping of new transistor devices, including tunneling field effect transistors, for more energy efficient and faster electronics for anything from cloud data center to smartphones.
IBM scientists envision other applications as well in the emerging field of quantum systems. One way to address and connect such quantum systems is via electromagnetic radiation or light. The new technique may be used to create high quality patterns to control and manipulate light for this purpose at unprecedented precision.
The technology has been licensed by IBM to the Swiss start-up SwissLitho who brought the desktop-sized tool to market under the name NanoFrazor.
This video runs over six minutes and sound quality varies (unexpected in an IBM video),
That mention of* a scanning tunneling microscope (STM )at the end is a veiled reference to the IBM scientists Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer who created the STM in IBM’s Geneva labs, an accomplishment for which they received a Nobel prize. The STM and the atomic force microscope (AFM) are two important and similar means of accessing and manipulating matter at the nanoscale .
Getting back to the Guinness World Records, the world’s smallest magazine cover, and IBM (from the National Geographic Kids contest page),
Help National Geographic Kids set a Guinness World Records title for the world’s smallest magazine cover, using IBM technology. Vote for your favorite NG KIDS cover from 2014 so far, and with help from IBM we’ll shrink the winner to microscopic proportions. …
… check back on April 11 to find out which cover will be turned into the world’s smallest magazine cover. After it’s miniaturized, the tiny cover will be unveiled on April 25 at the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival.
There are five covers to choose from including this one,The other four covers feature great pictures of animals.
* Corrected the preposition changing ‘to’ to ‘of’ on April 29, 2014.