You probably spend a lot of time thinking about your hair — how to keep it healthy, if you should dye it, things like that. But you’ve probably never thought of a strand of hair as a drawing surface before. After all, who would? Strands of hair are so tiny!
Luckily for this artist, Focused Ion Beam (FIB) technology knows a thing or two about tiny. This technology shoots an extremely fine, high-speed jet of matter onto a surface like an ultra-precise laser. And when we say extremely fine, we actually mean impossible-to-see-without-an-electron-microscope fine.
This is the surface of a strand of hair. Hair is actually covered in layers that look like scales.
This is already an interesting view of the human body, but it gets better. Or weirder. It depends on how you look at it.
With the help of FIB technology, shapes begin to form.
From here, these simple figures look like the Nazca lines emerging from the desert.
Everything here is measured in micrometers. A micrometer is a thousandth of a millimeter, or as we non-scientists like to say, it’s very, very, very small.
But those dimensions are totally doable for the FIB.
It was able to etch the world’s tiniest comic, complete with multiple panels and words, onto the surface of a human hair.
Watch the video to learn this strand’s little secret, and to gain some insight on this incredible invention.
So you might be asking yourself why this instrument — something that can write on hair — even exists. Well, it could have countless applications in the scientific world and beyond. Its extreme precision and ability to work on a microscopic level mean that we can take our desire to explore and create to new extremes.
You can learn more from the EHSM website about how things like this are made, and, if you’ve a head for that kind of thing, how to build some nifty items yourself.