It was the term ‘focused ion beam’ that caught my attention when I read the description that Sameer Walavalkar gives for his project on the Kickstarter website. From the Nano Art: Reloaded Kickstarter project page,
One day it occurred to me to use the Focused Ion Beam for something other than Science…”Nano-Art!” A gallium atom would be the pencil or paint, and a minuscule chip of silicon the canvas. On a whim, I replicated 3 of Monet’s “Water Lillies”, side by side on a silicon chip about 75 microns wide, (or about the width of a hair.) I presented the etched chip mounted on a print of the three images, in a frame, as a gift. The response to my first attempt at Nano-Art was: “HOW COOL!”
I’d like to fund a project that would let me expand the artistic potential of the scientific technology I have at hand. Honestly, a grain of salt or an eyelash looks totally different at the nano-scale. Consider this: an object you normally see as tiny (a hair, a grain of salt, or sand,) is HUGE compared to things made in the nano-world. It can completely change the way you look at things around you, I know it did for me. Why do we care about the nano-world, you ask? Well… every bit of the technology so essential for functioning, including the computer that you’re using now, is made with electronic devices that are the size of the etchings in this project!
Here are two images of the etchings you’ll find on Walavalker’s Kickstarter fundraising project page (art lovers may recognize Georges Seurat’s “La Grande Jatte” which has been reproduced on an eyelash),
Lee Rannals wrote an April 3, 2012 article for Red Orbit about Walavalkar (excerpted from the article, which also features a video),
People are unaware of the science that goes into making a device like a touchscreen smartphone that fits into a pocket, but Sameer Walavalkar is looking to change that.
In the project, Sameer, a physicist at Caltech, is using a scanning electron microscope to take pictures of artwork he has carved into silicon using a Focused Ion Beam.
He can carve any image, or text message, a person wants into the silicon, then take a photo of the image next to a grain of salt, an eyelash or a grain of sand.
The project is a way to bring the reality of just how small nanotechnology is, into the consumer’s hands.
The focused ion beam, which Walavalkar uses for his etchings, reminded me of a publishing project ‘Teeny Ted in Turnip Town’, which also featured a focused ion beam and nanoscale reproduction. Teeny Ted is mentioned in my May 21, 2009 posting.
Good luck to Sameer Walavalkar! Here again is the link to Nano Art: Reloaded.