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Physicists assemble world's smallest snowman

Very short, and just 10 µm wide

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The National Physical Laboratory has deployed a range of techniques to create the world's smallest snowman - a diminutive fellow just 10 µm across, or "1/5th the width of a human hair".

The world's smallest snowman. Pic: NPLThe NPL explains: "The snowman was made from two tin beads used to calibrate electron microscope astigmatism. The eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and the nose, which is under 1 µm wide (or 0.001 mm), is ion beam deposited platinum.

"A nanomanipulation system was used to assemble the parts 'by hand' and platinum deposition was used to weld all elements together. The snowman is mounted on a silicon cantilever from an atomic force microscope whose sharp tip 'feels' surfaces creating topographic surveys at almost atomic scales."

Sadly, the NPL appears to currently lack the technology to create a nanocarrot or miniature Santa hat, but we have no doubt it's working on a deposited platinum system capable of tackling these decorative shortcomings. ®

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