Monday, November 29, 2010


The Art of Invention: Atomic Art!

There's an exhibition at the United States Patent and Trademark Office Museum (USPTO) which may require you to take your glasses along with you. "Art of Invention - Invention of Art" opened on the 15th at the Museum in Virginia.

On display will be two of the smallest works of art in the world; "The Quantum Corral" and "The Search For Quantum Chaos." The atomic-sized images come out of the labs at IBM, using their low temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM). There's an online gallery of more works and information on the process of how they are made (which I didn't understand) at the IBM website here.

Made in IBM Labs: The World's Tiniest Art on Display

"While experimenting with materials that might make up future computer chips and storage components, IBM scientists built beautiful structures out of individual atoms using a specialized microscope whose invention won two IBMers a Nobel Prize in 1986." CNN Money

There's also an interview with Don Eigler over at the American Scientist website, where he explains the process of making an image "We used a scanning tunneling microscope, in which a metal needle under computer control is made to move along the contours of the surface being imaged. The height of the needle at each location on a square grid of points is recorded as a number in the computer. This sequence of numbers representing the height of the surface at each point on the grid is then rendered by the computer to look like a three-dimensional solid."

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