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IBM Makes Nano-Sized 3D Replicas of Earth and the Matterhorn [Pictures]

In one final piece of Earth Day news, IBM has mapped the Earth in three dimensions. On a scale 1000 times smaller than a grain of salt. And they’ve made a 1:5 billion scale replica of the Matterhorn. Wait what?

IBM researchers in Zurich, Switzerland published their findings today in Science and Applied Materials, stating that they were successful in demonstrating a fast and cheap means of nanosculpting substrate materials that can be used in a number of applications, including making nanolenses and nanobots.

By using a silicon needle similar to those found in atomic force microscopes and heating it to a temperature between 300 and 500°C, the scientists were able to melt and evaporate tiny portions of substrate in order to make the reliefs they sought. The technique was capable of etching a three-dimensional, 1:5 billion scale replica of the Swiss Matterhorn at 25 nanometers high. Their model of the Earth measured 11 micrometers North to South and 22 micrometers East to West, and was produced in under 3 minutes.

IBM believes the process can go even smaller, making it a potential replacement for contemporary electron-beam lithography. Already, IBM is reporting that the cost is up to 90% lower than EBL. With that in mind, they have high hopes for the new technology.

“We’re not just here to carve models of mountains,” researcher Urs Duerig told Forbes. “We have technology that can actually do things on a time scale and a precision scale which is commercially interesting.”

[via PCWorld, Forbes Velocity]

A few artists’ renditions and other pictures from IBM Zurich’s Flickr feed:

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