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Monday, July 7, 2014

The thickness of your fingernail is the same as the width of this nano-painting

This isn’t just some cheap knock-off of Claude Monet’s 1872 impressionist painting, Impression, Sunrise. It’s 300 micrometres wide, which makes it the smallest recreated masterpiece in the world.
Image: The American Chemical Society
Joel Yang at the Singapore University of Technology and Design wanted to explore the properties of nanopixels, and what better way to understand colours than by recreating one of the most famous paintings ever produced?
Swapping oil paints for nanoscale silicon pillars topped with aluminium, Yang and his team created a painting just 300 micrometres wide, which is equivalent to the diameter of three strands of hair. To put it another way, the width of this painting is the same as the thickness of a single fingernail.
Just how these tiny pillars can create the dreamy blues and golds of the sun rising over a calm harbour has everything to do with how they react to light. As Jacob Aron from New Scientistexplains, "When light strikes the pillars it creates ripples of electrons that in turn release coloured light of a particularly frequency. The team created ‘pixels' of four pillars and varied their size and spacing to produce about 300 different colours, enough to reproduce the Monet masterpiece.”
According to Aron, two years ago Yang and his colleagues used an earlier version of the technology to create a nanoscale image inspired by stained glass windows. Because at the time they were using silver and gold rather than silicon and aluminium, they only had access to 15 colours, and - as you’d imagine - it was an extremely expensive process. 
Now that they’ve improved the technique and made it cheaper to perform, Yang and his colleagues will be using their knowledge of how these minuscule pixels of colour behave to explore applications in data storage or hidden security tags on physical objects.
Source: New Scientist