How many Mona Lisas can fit on the head of a pin?

Researchers create a version of the classic painting that's only 30 microns wide

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Image credit: Flickr/WGAUTHIER


Nanotechnology has found its way into an amazingly diverse number of industries. It's used for clothing, sunscreen, rocket propellants, packaging for beer bottles, synthetic bones and many other things. But never to recreate timeless art -- until now.

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have used nanotechnology to recreate Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, Mona Lisa.

But don't expect to see "Mini Lisa," as the GIT team calls it, anytime soon. The "painting" measures a mere 30 microns wide. How small is that? The head of a pin is about 1,000 microns wide.

The researchers weren't trying to make a killing creating essentially invisible knock-offs of classic art, though I hear there's a thriving underground market for that. Rather, they were experimenting with changing surfaces on a molecular level. The scientists say the project shows that nanotechnology someday may be used to manufacture devices.

Here's a good description of how the nanotechnology scientists did it, courtesy of National Monitor (where you also can find out who has The Best 6 Breasts of Hollywood; even The Huffington Post doesn't have that range!):

Scientists created the world’s smallest version of the Mona Lisa using an atomic force microscope and a technique called ThermoChemical NanoLithography (TCNL). To create Mini Lisa, the scientists located a heat cantilever at the substrate surface to create a series of limited nanoscale chemical reactions. By altering only the heat at each location, Keith Carroll controlled the number of new molecules that were created.

The GIT team reportedly is working on a nanoscale version of that hilarious "dogs playing poker" painting. Proprietors of nano-sized fleabag motels wait with bated breath.

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