Physicists at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) are brightening up Christmas by using a 3D nanolithography tool called nanofrazor to record the smallest disc in history. The tune they “recorded,” in full stereo, no less: the first 25 seconds of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.”
“I’ve been doing lithography for 30 years, and even though we’ve had this machine for a while, it still feels like science fiction.” Peter Boggild said, a physicist at the DTU. “To get an idea of the scale we’re working on, we could write our signatures on a red blood cell with this thing. The most radical thing is that we can create freeform 3D landscapes at that crazy resolution.”
behind in 2015the same DTU group created a color microscope image of Mona Lisa, about 10,000 times smaller than the original painting by Leonardo da Vinci. To do so, they created a nanoscale surface structure consisting of rows of columns, covered by a 20nm-thick layer of aluminum. The amount of deformation of a column determined which colors of light were reflected, and the deformation in turn was determined by the intensity of the pulsed laser beam. For example, low-intensity pulses only slightly deformed the columns, producing blue and purple hues, while strong pulses significantly deformed the columns, producing orange and yellow hues. The resulting image fits in a space smaller than the footprint of a single pixel on an iPhone’s Retina display.
DTU’s physics group acquired the Nanofrazor to sculpt precisely detailed 3D nanostructures quickly and relatively inexpensively. The Christmas puck was simply a fun holiday project for post-doc Nolan Lassaline to demonstrate the ability to precisely shape a surface at the nanoscale. Instead of adding material to a surface, the Nanofrazor precisely removes material to sculpt the surface into the desired pattern or shape, a kind of grayscale nanolithography.
“The Nanofrazor went to work like a record-cutting lathe, turning an audio signal into a spiral groove on the surface of the media.” Boggild said, who is also an amateur musician and vinyl record enthusiast. “In this case, the medium is a different polymer than vinyl. We even encoded the music in stereo: sideways are the left channel, while depth modulation contains the right channel. It may be too impractical and expensive to become exit”. etch. To read the groove, you need a rather expensive atomic force microscope or the Nanofrazor, but it’s definitely doable.”
The initial goal is to use the Nanofrazor to develop new types of magnetic sensors capable of detecting currents in living brains. Lassaline plans to create “quantum soap bubbles” in graphene in hopes of discovering new ways to precisely manipulate electrons in that and other atomically thin materials. “The fact that we can now precisely shape surfaces with nanoscale precision at almost the speed of imagination is a game changer for us.” said DTU physicist Tim Booth. “We have lots of ideas about what to do next, and we believe this machine will significantly speed up prototyping of new structures.”
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