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3D Printed Art Smaller Than an Ant's Forehead 35

ErnieKey (3766427) writes Artist Jonty Hurwitz has created the world's smallest sculptures: nanosculptures, no wider than a human hair and unable to be seen without an electron microscope, created using a specialized 3D printing process. Hurwitz says this project was 'Art, literally created with Quantum Physics.' While this seems quite a claim, it seems to be very well deserved. Hurwitz enlisted a team of approximately 15 people to help him bring his vision to life. After scanning his models in a 200-camera array, the sculptures were printed — with advice from the Weizmann Institute of Science — using a 3D print technique by the Institute of Microstructure Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, with multiphoton lithography used for the fine detail work.
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3D Printed Art Smaller Than an Ant's Forehead

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  • The arts are indeed impressive ! However, they are "sculptures" that do not have movable joints

    If only they can make bots that small imagine how many amazing feats that can be achieved !

    • by AC-x ( 735297 )

      Given the sculptures were made using lithography I can't see why the same technique couldn't be applied to MEMS [].

      • Given the sculptures were made using lithography I can't see why the same technique couldn't be applied to MEMS [].

        The material, and techniques, are different. MEMS is done on silicon using a subtractive process. The sculptures in TFA were made with an additive process using a polymer. MEMS uses both the mechanical and electrical properties of silicon, so a polymer would not be a drop in replacement.

  • Well, I have heard of Hogsheads as a unit: []

    But an ant's forehead . . . how many Libraries of Congress or size of Wales is that . . . ?

    Maybe they meant "aunt" instead of "ant" . . . ? I don't know about youse guys, but if someone tried to print something in 3D on my aunt's forehead, they would be in for more trouble than they expected . . .

  • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) <bittercode@gmail> on Sunday November 16, 2014 @07:14AM (#48395987) Homepage Journal

    Art for ants?!

  • Now, printed ON an ant's forehead, that would be a story.
  • And make sure you blur out the naught bits. Can't have that.
  • Fun fast: I am literally posting this post using quantum physics.

  • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Sunday November 16, 2014 @10:59AM (#48396447)
    Here's [] a nice page on the two photon effect, which explains how the resolution was achieved. Two-photon imaging has been used for some time in the life sciences to achieve super-thin optical sectioning.
  • The first statue should have been one of Hendrik Casimir.
  • by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) on Sunday November 16, 2014 @01:17PM (#48396967)

    No, I'm sorry, it appears to me that this is all photoshopped fakery. Yes, two-photon lithography is a real thing, but in this case we have some artist claiming to have done things which are not currently possible.

    This kind of thing happens pretty frequently now and it pisses me off, sorry. Real scientists and engineers (and even artists) dream and strive to accomplish great feats of engineering and discovery. But some people like to pretend their dreams are real and by presenting fake accomplishments to the world they damage society by trivializing the actual accomplishments of real innovators. They present their "art" as if it were real, and it gets sent around the internet and people believe that it's true, and that further blurs the public's view of what's real and what's art or pure fantasy. What's the point of trying to actually do something like this when everyone thinks it has already been done?

    So, anyhow, a few minutes googling will expose some of the original pre-photoshop images that these people appropriated to create their "art". For example, the microphotograph of the needle's eye can be found here with no tiny statue in evidence: []

    In addition, depth-of-field, lighting, and other cues like the fact that there's no actual connection to the substrate make these fakes pretty obvious.

    Ergo, I must presume the whole thing, including the video interview is all just "performance art".

    Here's a tip: amazing and groundbreaking scientific and technological breakthroughs are generally not announced to the world by artists.


    • The size of the images also doesn't mesh with the size described in the article text. The figurines in the images are actually quite large, and should be clearly visible even with much less than 400x magnification. For example, the head of a small ant might be 0.5 mm wide. That would make the figurine about 0.1 mm long. With 400x magnification it would be like looking at an object 4 cm long, which would be quite visible. Yet the text claims these were only visible with electron microscopes.

      But of course, no

      • The point spread function of a 2 photon microscope is about 3 microns in the axial direction for 900 nm light. So it could plausibly be 1/3 here because they're using UV. I suspected they indeed created the blurrier looking figurines toward the bottom of the page with the rest being being representations of what the figurine would look like on other objects. Yes, it would be visible with a light microscope, since it was created with a light microscope.
    • by asjk ( 569258 )
      Thanks GS, this is why /. is such a valuable resource. There is always someone reading who knows BS and stops the rest of us (me) from spamming bogus information around.
  • That sculpture looks like it's about the width of more then a 100 ant hairs. Is a human hair more then a 100 times as wide as a ant hair? I know everything on ants is smaller but is that sculpture really no wider then a human hair? Honest question.
  • Doesn't IBM's litho stamp of its own logo (gold on carbon or was it the other way round?) count?

  • While not 3D-printed, similar things have been done long before by Nikolai Aldunin []. A TIME gallery [] features some pictures, among them perhaps most relevant at the moment a set of seven camels (plus three palm trees) in the eye of a needle and most impressive for me personally a flea fitted with horse shoes, saddle and stirrups. While TIME reported on him in 2008, most of the work is much older. I remember going to an exhibition in late 1980s.

  • Get that off my head!! It is itching me! :(

  • I need some adornment for my ant's forehead. Is there anything larger than this available?

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly