The smallest map in the world is just one hundredth the diameter of a human hair

The smallest map in the world is just one hundredth the diameter of a human hair

In 1992, Jonathon Mamin of the IBM laboratory in Zurich created a map of the Western Hemisphere from atoms using electromagnetic pulses.

The map is scaled from one trillion to one and the diameter is approximately one micron (one billionth of a meter), about one hundredth of the diameter of a human hair .

And the smallest 3D map

In 2012, IBM also created a 22×11-micrometer, half-million-pixel 3D world map of about 20 square nanometers each in just 143 seconds. In addition, it replicated the most photographed mountain on the planet, the Matterhorn (the Alps), from 4,478 meters high at a size of 25 nanometers. In this case, it is the smallest 3D world map in history.

The map, produced on a small strip of polymer, measures just 22 by 11 micrometers. To put that in perspective, 1000 copies of the map could fit on a single grain of salt .

The central component of the new technique, which was developed by a team of IBM scientists, is a tiny, very sharp silicon tip that is 500 nanometers long and only a few nanometers at its apex. The tip, similar to that used in atomic force microscopes, is attached to a flexible cantilever that in a controlled manner scans the surface of the substrate material with the precision of one nanometer, one millionth of a millimeter. By applying heat and force, the nano-sized tip can remove material from the substrate based on predefined patterns, thus operating like a "nano-milling" machine with extremely high precision.