Physicists at the National Physical Laboratory have created the world's smallest 'snowman' using a variety of sophisticated techniques and advanced research equipment, including a focused ion beam, nanomanipulation system, and silicon cantilever.
The nano-scale snowman, pictured below, measures 10 micrometers across (or one-fifth the width of a human hair).
The National Physics Laboratory explains how the teensy snowman -- as well as his jolly smile -- were created:
The snowman was made from two tin beads used to calibrate electron microscope astigmatism. The eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and the nose, which is under 1 [micrometer] wide (or 0.001 mm), is ion beam deposited platinum.
A nanomanipulation system was used to assemble the parts 'by hand' and platinum deposition was used to weld all elements together. The snowman is mounted on a silicon cantilever from an atomic force microscope whose sharp tip 'feels' surfaces creating topographic surveys at almost atomic scales.
If that sounds a bit complex (or if you're still curious), check out the fantastic video of how the snowman was made below.
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