Science

Microscopic structure takes the "tiny house" thing to a new level

Microscopic structure takes th...
The "gingerbread" house is a mere 6 microns wide by 10 microns long
The "gingerbread" house is a mere 6 microns wide by 10 microns long
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The "gingerbread" house is a mere 6 microns wide by 10 microns long
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The "gingerbread" house is a mere 6 microns wide by 10 microns long
The house and its accompanying snowman
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The house and its accompanying snowman
The gingerbread house and its accompanying snowman, with a human hair for scale
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The gingerbread house and its accompanying snowman, with a human hair for scale
The "gingerbread" house is a mere 6 microns wide by 10 microns long
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The "gingerbread" house is a mere 6 microns wide by 10 microns long
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Although tiny houses are becoming increasingly popular, many people wonder if they could ever actually live in one. Well, those folks would be particularly challenged by a new gingerbread-style house, as it’s smaller than the width of a human hair.

The diminutive dwelling was made by Travis Casagrande, a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy at McMaster University. Visually guided by an electron microscope, he utilized a beam of charged gallium ions to essentially "sandblast" material off of a tiny block of silicon.

This process resulted in structure measuring just 6 microns wide by 10 microns long, likely making it the smallest house – or more accurately a model of a house – ever made. By contrast, a microscopic house created last year at France's Femto-ST Institute was about twice that size.

The gingerbread house and its accompanying snowman, with a human hair for scale
The gingerbread house and its accompanying snowman, with a human hair for scale

Not only is the McMaster gingerbread house small, but it's also detailed. Some of its finer features include individually-etched bricks, a wreath over the door, and a Canadian-flag welcome mat. It rests on the head of a snowman that was also created by Casagrande, from a material used in lithium-ion battery research.

"I think projects like this create science curiosity," he says. "For both children and adults, it’s important to be curious about science. Looking into how this was made leads to more interest in science, and that builds more science literacy, which allows everyone to make better decisions."

Source: McMaster University

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1 comment
Jeff7
Marie Kondo will still tell you you have too much stuff to move in.