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The snowman is 10 Ám across, 1/5th the width of a human hair.
The snowman was made from two tin beads used to calibrate electron microscope astigmatism. The eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and the nose, which is under 1 Ám wide (or 0.001 mm), is ion beam deposited platinum.
A nanomanipulation system was used to assemble the parts 'by hand' and platinum deposition was used to weld all elements together. The snowman is mounted on a silicon cantilever from an atomic force microscope whose sharp tip 'feels' surfaces creating topographic surveys at almost atomic scales.
The techniques used to create the Nanoscale snowman are employed by NPL:
* To make and fine tune Atomic Force Microscope cantilevers for measuring surface topography.
* To manufacture nanoscale SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices) for a wide range of future metrological applications including spintronics, single particle detection, NEMS and quantum information processing.
* To measure magnetic properties of very small magnetic systems using quantum hall probes
(Full article includes video on how the snowman was made)
About National Physical Laboratory
The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the UK's leading science and research facilities. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate standards, science and technology available.
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