Last year, scientists at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) got in a festive mood and created “the world’s thinnest Christmas tree.” This time, they’ve produced what they claim is the world’s smallest record, complete with a Christmas tune engraved into it.
Measuring just 40 microns (thousands of a millimeter) in diameter, the polymer record contains the first 25 seconds of the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” It was created using a commercial device known as the NanoFrazor, which removes minuscule amounts of material from a solid piece at precise locations, eventually leaving the desired shape behind.
Not only did the NanoFrazor create the flat record disc and the graphics in its center, but it also carved an actual record-like spiraled groove into its surface, which incorporates the music signal … in stereo, no less. The lateral (side-to-side) “wriggles” of the groove represents the left audio channel, while variations in the depth of the groove represent the right channel.
Needless to say, you couldn’t play the record on a conventional turntable. “To read the groove, you need a rather costly atomic force microscope or the NanoFrazor, but it is definitely doable,” said the lead scientist, Prof. Peter Bøggild.
And while there isn’t much practical use for such tiny records, the exercise does illustrate how adept the NanoFrazor is at quickly and inexpensively producing highly detailed nanostructures – and those nanostructures could have a lot of valuable applications.
“The fact that we can now accurately shape the surfaces with nanoscale precision at pretty much the speed of imagination is a game changer for us,” said Assoc. Prof. Tim Booth. “We have many ideas for what to do next and believe that this machine will significantly speed up the prototyping of new structures. Our main goal is to develop novel magnetic sensors for detecting currents in the living brain […] We also look forward to creating precisely sculpted potential landscapes with which we can better control electron waves.”
Source: Technical University of Denmark