3D Printing

Artist creates nanosculptures smaller than a human hair

Artist Jonty Hurwitz has created sculptures so tiny that they can only be seen using an electron microscope (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
Artist Jonty Hurwitz has created sculptures so tiny that they can only be seen using an electron microscope (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
Close-up of the sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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Close-up of the sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" on the head of an insect (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" on the head of an insect (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
Close up of the sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" on the head of an insect (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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Close up of the sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" on the head of an insect (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Intensity" compared to a human hair (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Intensity" compared to a human hair (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Intensity" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Intensity" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Intensity" from above (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Intensity" from above (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Intensity" is about the size of growth your nails produce in around 6 hours (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Intensity" is about the size of growth your nails produce in around 6 hours (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Trust" viewed from above (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Trust" viewed from above (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
Artist Jonty Hurwitz has created sculptures so tiny that they can only be seen using an electron microscope (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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Artist Jonty Hurwitz has created sculptures so tiny that they can only be seen using an electron microscope (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Trust" shown standing on a human hair (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
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The sculpture "Trust" shown standing on a human hair (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)

A sculpture so tiny that it cannot be seen by the naked eye is claimed to be the smallest sculpture of the human form ever created. Measuring a picayune 20 x 80 x 100 microns, artist Jonty Hurwitz’s tiny human statue is part of a new series of equally diminutive new sculptures that are at a scale so infinitesimally miniscule that each of the figures is approximately equal in size to the amount your fingernails grow in around about 6 hours, and can only be viewed using a scanning electron microscope.

Sculpted with an advanced new nano 3D printing technology coupled with a technique called multiphoton lithography, these works of art are created using a laser that uses the phenomenon of two photon absorption. In this way, an object is traced out by a laser in a block of light-sensitive monomer or polymer gel, and the excess is then washed away to leave a solid form.

As this method of two photon absorption only takes place at the tiny focal point of the laser, it essentially creates a tiny 3D pixel (a voxel) at that juncture. The laser is then moved along a fractional distance under computer control and the next voxel in the series is formed. In a long and painstaking process that takes place over many hours, the complete 3D sculpture is assembled voxel by voxel.

"We live in an era where the impossible has finally come to pass," said Hurwitz. "In our own little way we have become demi-gods of creation. Contemporary art, in my humble view, needs to reflect the human condition as it is today, it needs to represent the state of society at the time of its creation. Take a moment to consider that only 6,000 years ago we were painting crude animal images on the walls of caves with rocks. We have come far. This nano sculpture is the collective achievement of all of humanity. It is the culmination of thousands of years of R&D.;"

The sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)
The sculpture "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss" (Photo: Jonty Hurwitz)

The sculptures that Hurwitz created, "Trust," "Cupid and Psyche: The First Kiss," and "Intensity" are said by the artist to explore the idea of science versus legend, myth, and reality.

"The absolute fact is this: the human eye is unable to see these sculptures," he continued. "All you see is a small mirror with ... nothing on it. The only way to perceive these works is on the screen of powerful scanning electron microscope. So how can you ever know that this sculpture really exists? Your only way to engage with it is through a screen, and a mouse separating you and the art via a vacuum and a series of mathematically mind-blowing quantum processes that shower the art with particles to map its contours. Can you be sure of its existence if your basic senses are telling you that nothing is there? The line between myth and science is fine."

The video below is an interview with the artist in which he explains more about his work.

Source: Jonty Hurwitz

The story of Trust: A nano sculpture

11 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
So did anyone else immediately think of "The Emperor's New Clothes"? heh... I can imagine the conversation now: "Sure, there's a miniature sculpture there! Uh huh, yeah right!" "No, really! There really is! ... That'll be $5K please... I take Visa, Paypal...."
tampa florida
incredible!
f8lee
Well now we're getting closer to the answer to the question: "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"
kalqlate
@MzunguMkubwa, @f8lee - WELL DONE!! :)
Lamar Havard
...and in keeping with the geek code, it involves naked girls. Ain't science wonderful?!
Noel K Frothingham
The future of haute cuisine.....
Threesixty
Incredible! Scale it up a few thou and you have extraordinary visible detail.
Stuart Wilshaw
As art it's a waste of time but what is important is what can now be done with 3D printing. Being able to print at this scale opens up all sort of possibilities for what can be produced by printing. Just use your imagination guys; look beyond the hype.
Bob
On a serious note, could this be used for micro surgery or something useful?
boomer
This may not have an immediate use in practical terms,but give it time as people play and learn then practical uses will emerge...