IBM is showing off their new nanopatterning technique with the smallest 3D map of the world that has ever been created. The itty-bitty Earth is so tiny that 1000 of them could fit on a single grain of salt. The map measures just 22 by 11 micrometers; the underlying material used to create the map was an IBM-created polymer called polyphthalaldehyde. An extremely tiny silicon tip was used to etch the polymer with a point that’s roughly 100,000 sharper than the point of a pencil. The machine that IBM used to create this miracle of nanotechnology completed the feat in under 2.5 minutes.
While a sub-microscopic world map might not seem like a great breakthrough for science, the above video points out that this technique could actually have a huge impact on all areas of nanotechnology. According to IBM, applications could include rapid nanoelectrics prototyping and shape-matching components of self-assembling nano objects. Besides being able to produce better resolutions than other methods, the machine IBM used to create this new world is small enough to fit on a tabletop and costs about one-fifth to one-tenth of current techniques.