Using various small-scale writing techniques to visualize the transition from the nano scale to the visible world using a penny

Using various small-scale writing techniques to visualize the transition from the nano scale to the visible world using a penny

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About the Author: livescience


  1. **Explanation**

    This video shows a nice visualization of the transition from the nanoscale to the visible scale. It also visualizes different techniques used to write and see very small features. The following steps were used to write the features:

    1. The first images you see with the Molecular Foundry logo, have features only a few tens of nanometers in width. That’s on the order of a few hundred atoms. In order to get features this small, a high energy electron beam was used to hit atoms in a very precise way, resulting in the tiny grooves you see.^(*)

    2. Next, you see a time lapse of the Berkeley Logo written using a different technique called [focused ion beam milling]( In this case gallium ions were smashed into the coin, [as shown in this diagram]( Eventually this method traced out the Berkeley Logo.

    3. Finally a simple optical microscope puts the other two images in context by showing how small of an area they occupy in the coin.

    * From the source I can’t quite be sure if they stripped atom directly using the electron beam or if they used the beam to strip away a resist and then etched the surface as in [electron beam lithography](

    **Video Source:** [This video](

  2. That was really cool. Although they may have had Lincoln write those words really small before taking his picture for the coin.

  3. Unfortunately it zooms too quickly in the transition from the Berkley logo to Abe’s face, at least I lose the sense of how small the smallest text really is.

  4. Now detail everything else on the penny. Something so small yet so hyper-detailed would be worth money to see. Or at least I’d pay money to see it.

  5. Can we have machines that carve micro-details onto pennies? That’d be much cooler than those penny-smasher ones at the zoo.

  6. Way to jerkily cut out suddenly between the Berkeley logo and the Lincoln face. If it were smoother and centered we might actually be able to visualize the size.

  7. I wish we had these videoed when I first learned about scales and nanometers in school. I mean, I hear about it and I get that it’s 10^-9, but you don’t really know what that means until you see it like this.

  8. Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “purposefully alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States…

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