Microns are amazingly small units of measurement–just one millionth of a meter apiece. They’re so small that they make beach sand (100-2000 μm) or human hairs (40-300 μm) look fat. Microns require an entire shift of perspective. They bring you to the cellular scale–the world of blood cells (8 μm) and chromosomes (7 μm), even a single E. coli bacterium (1.8 μm).
And now, a company named Nanoscribe is printing complex 3-D models with sub-micron fidelity, in seconds. It’s all thanks to their new machine, the Photonic Professional GT, which wields two photons at a time (the building blocks of light) to fabricate incredible structures too small for the eye to see.
Their model spaceship is straight out of Fantastic Voyage, but their other creations are likely a lot more practical. They’ve created tiny gears that could conceivably build tiny mechanical machines, along with massively complex scaffolding to hold and shape cells. The work has implications for electronics, biology and all of the materials in between.
But while I await smarter people than I to figure all of the use cases out, I’m going to sit here in wonder of the world we live in today, while contemplating whether any bank would give me a loan the size of a mortgage to pick up one of these micron-scale 3-D printers, purely for recreational purposes.