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Focused Ion Beam Creates Microscopic Poem

microscopic poemResearchers have inscribed a microscopic poem that would fit many times onto the sharp tip of a needle, using some of the world’s most advanced nanotechnology equipment.

A team from the Cardiff University Manufacturing Engineering Centre (MEC) used a Focused Ion Beam (FIB) machine to engrave the three-line, seventeen-syllable Japanese-style haiku poem.

The point of a needle is approximately 74 square microns (a square micron is a millionth of a square millimetre) and the poem takes up an area of 4.35 square microns. Each of the poem’s 45 letters is 170 by 170 nanometers in size (a nanometer is a millionth of a millimetre).

The poem, written by team member Kim Pham, reads:

My poem is small,
Even nanoscopical -
Can’t be read at all.

The tiny engraving was achieved at the Centre’s MicroBridge facility, which provides UK industry with the most advanced machinery in the world, including the FIB machine, for working with materials on a nano (very small) scale.

MEC Director, Professor Duc Truong Pham, said: "It is good to see that engineers and scientists appreciate poetry and can even write possibly record-breaking poems, but there are many other uses for this technique in a wide variety of sectors. We hope to be talking to interested parties involved in electronics, the automotive industry, environmental sensors, laboratory instruments and medical equipment."

The team made the inscription using an electron microscope to align the ion beam. The area of the engraving is 80 times smaller than that of the world’s smallest hole, drilled by a MEC team last year, which appears in this year’s Guinness World Records.

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