IBM and National Geographic Kids Make World's Smallest Magazine Cover

Posted on April 25, 2014

National Geographic Kids smallest magazine cover

IBM scientists and National Geographic Kids made the world's smallest magazine cover using a microscopic 3D printer. The microscopic cover is the March 2014 issue of National Geographic Kids , which has pandas on it. The tiny magazine cover measures 11 � 14 micrometers. 2,000 copies of the cover could fit on a grain of salt.

To make the mini magazine cover IBM researchers built a tiny chisel-like device with a heatable silicon tip 100,000 times smaller than a sharpened pencil point. The tip was attached to a bendable cantilever that scans the surface of the substrate material, a polymer invented by chemists at IBM Research in Almaden, California. It has the accuracy of one nanometer - one millionth of a millimeter. By applying heat and force, the tip can remove substrate material based on predefined patterns, thus operating like a nanomilling machine or a 3D printer with ultrahigh precision. Additional material can be removed to create complex 3D structures with nanometer precision by modulating the force or by readdressing individual spots. It took scientists 10 minutes and 40 seconds to etch the magazine cover onto a polymer.

Dr. Armin Knoll, a physicist and inventor at IBM Research, says in the announcement, "To create more energy-efficient clouds and crunch Big Data faster, we need a new generation of technologies including novel transistors. But before we can put these future technologies into mass production, we need new techniques for prototyping below 30 nanometers. With our novel technique we can achieve very high resolution at 10 nanometers at greatly reduced cost and complexity. In particular by controlling the amount of material evaporated, we can also produce 3D relief patterns at the unprecedented accuracy of merely one nanometer in a vertical direction. Now it's up to the imagination of scientists and engineers to apply this technique to real-world challenge."

Take a look:

Photo: IBM Corporation

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