Sunday 11 December 2016

Tiny card passes on new year wishes

Published 19/01/2012 | 14:48

The tiny Chinese new year card is invisible to the naked eye
The tiny Chinese new year card is invisible to the naked eye

A Chinese New Year card so small it is invisible to the naked eye has been created at a university.

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Nanotechnology experts at the University of Glasgow unveiled the greeting card to showcase their world-leading expertise in the field.

It expresses warm wishes for health and prosperity during the Year of the Dragon from Scotland to China, and is also an invitation for collaboration and partnership in cutting-edge technology between the two countries. The university said it represents the "huge potential" for China to profit from Scottish innovation.

The tiny card, said to be the world's smallest, measures 300 micro-metres wide by 200 micro-metres tall. One micro-metre is one-millionth of a metre and the width of a human hair is about 100 micro-metres. It is so small that it could fit on a 36mm by 36mm Chinese new year commemorative postage stamp 21,600 times over.

The card was produced at the institution's James Watt Nanofabrication Centre ahead of the country's new year celebrations, which begin on Monday.

Professor David Cumming and Dr Qin Chen, from the university's school of engineering, etched the Chinese characters and dragon image on to a very small piece of glass. The manufacturing process only took 30 minutes and is said to be highly repeatable.

Prof Cumming said: "The future applications of nanotechnology are vast, but the nature of nanotechnology can be difficult to express to the public. Making this Chinese New Year card was a simple way to show how accurate our technology is.

"The colours were produced by plasmon resonance in a patterned aluminium film made in our James Watt Nanofabrication Centre. The underlying technology has some very important real world applications in bio-technology sensing, optical filtering and light control components, and advances in micro and nanofabrication for the electronics industry.

"All these applications are critical in the future development of the digital economy and the emerging healthcare technology markets. Within a home environment, this technology could eventually find its way into cameras, television and computer screens to reduce the manufacturing cost."

The card was developed in conjunction with international trade and investment body Scottish Development International (SDI). SDI chief executive Anne MacColl said: "Nanotechnology is just one area in which Scotland is considered a world leader. From renewable energy to life sciences, digital media to ICT and education to financial services, Scotland has a wealth of expertise, skilled people and knowledge."

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