Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a new version of the Mona Lisa. It’s pretty darn close to the original, except for one thing: Theirs is only 30 microns long, about one-third the width of a human hair. This “Mini Lisa” was fashioned with an atomic force microscope using a process called ThermoChemical NanoLithography.
With TCNL, each pixel of the image was “painted” by creating a nanoscale chemical reaction–by using heat to create molecules. The more heat, the greater number of molecules. And the more molecules generated at each location on the “canvas” (a substrate surface), the lighter the imprinted color. Hotter temperatures were used to create Mini Lisa’s forehead and hands. Cooler temperatures painted her dress and hair. Researchers used fluorescent dye to make their molecular canvas visible to the human eye.
Scientists are hoping this research in TCNL technology will help expand the possibilities for nanomanufacturing, as well as nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, and bioengineering. At the very least, we could see a new trend of mini museums, housing mini Van Goghs, mini Monets, and even screening rooms showing atomic movies.