Top 10 Most Incredible Pieces Of Nanoscale Art


Usually when we think of “art”, things like sculptures or paintings come to mind; in other words, stuff you can hang on the wall or keep in your atrium to be the envy of your neighborhood’s upper crust (everyone is lower-upper class, right?  That’s what TV tells me).

But there is a new form that not only requires skill, it requires science, and likely access to equipment most of us do not have in our homes, or possibly even in our city.

10.  Nano Rose




This rose was created by a Taiwanese person named Pai Chun Wei at the National Taiwan University.  It was made using Indium, which I didn’t even know was a thing.  What’s next?  Germanium?  Oh, wait…

Most people have a hard time making fancy roses out of tomato skins, but this rose is mere hundreds of nanometers across; for perspective, a human hair is between 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers across.  I wouldn’t suggest giving these to your significant other in place of real flowers any time soon (unless you are dating a nerd).

9.  Nano Explosions



These “explosions” are actually “color-enhanced scanning electron micrographs of an overflowed electro-deposited magnetic nanowire array”.  I am not sure what all of that means, but I think it has something to do with zapping tiny wires, taking a picture with an electron microscope and then photoshopping it so that it looks like an army of tiny volcanoes or a nuclear Armageddon on a microscopic scale.  This one was created by Fanny Beron from Montreal, and was a first place winner at the 2007 Science As Art competition in Boston.

8.  Nano Dice



Also a first place winner at the 2007 Science As Art competition, these dice were “self-assembled” out of nickel, and measure a whopping 200 microns across, making them roughly twice the width of a tick hair.  Timothy Leong of Johns Hopkins University made them, I am assuming to provide mice with tiny novelty trinkets of their own, or for protozoans to hang from their rearview mirrors.  I would have been impressed enough with the tiny cubes, but getting the dots on them blew me away.  I can’t even glue the hood on a model car without getting glue on the axels.

7.  Nano Reindeer



I couldn’t find anything in plain English that described how this was made, so I am just going to say, “holy crap, they made a reindeer 5 thousandths of a millimeter across!”  Imagine the little houses they would land on, bringing toys to the children of dust mites and really big bacteria.  No kidding these ones can fly; they’re smaller than a snowflake, so a light breeze could take them miles.  All they would need is a minuscule Santa to…oh, here we go.

6.  Nano Santa



So Nano-Santa is a tad larger than the reindeer but, really, at that scale I don’t think it matters.  This was created by Adam Steele for the SAA competition, and won him second place.  The caption at the bottom of the picture implies that it was created using carbon nanotubes and Teflon.  Unfortunately, Nano-Santa appears to have fallen out of his sleigh and landed on some rocks, so let’s hope there is a microscopic Hanukkah Harry to bail him out.

5.  Nano Smileys



The man who made these little fellas called them “buddies”, and they are about the cutest thing there is on a molecular level.  These are probably what puppies and little girls are made of.  Except maybe the little guy in the upper left who appears to be screaming.  Probably because the two next to him are missing parts of their heads.  And two of them are missing their jaws, like the guy in the next room in Road Trip.  On second thought, I don’t think a smiling nanoface could get much more disturbing than these…

4.  Evil Nano Pac-Man



AHHHH!  Holy crap!  I stand corrected.

Good lord!  It’s like someone mixed Pac-Man, Venom and Rorschach and came up with a hybrid more terrifying than the sum of its parts.  Elisabetta Comini from the University of Brescia in Italy crafted this monstrosity out of copper oxide, and is only 3.5 microns across.  She won the first prize at the 2010 SAA competition in San Francisco, probably after threatening to unleash her terrifying horde on the world’s nightmares if she did not.

3.  Nano Garden



Thankfully, this incredible nano-garden exists to soothe away the terror brought on by the other images.  It looks like they are growing some tiny Titam Arum, micro succulents, and hmm…looks like some lamp shades over in the lower left?  Whatever, it’s surprisingly pretty for being so small, and interestingly well-ordered.  I could go into some jokes about viruses harvesting this for winter but, by now, I’m sure you’re tired of the “small” jokes and…oops, looks like I did it anyway.

2.  Coat of Arms in Carbon Nanotube



Carbon nanotubes are the miracle material of the future; they will be used in the organic LEDS that make up our TVs and monitors, they will be used to build impossible structures that are as strong as diamonds, and make almost 100%-efficient solar cells.  They will also be used to make impossibly tiny pictures of the Yin-Yang symbol or your coat of arms.  You know, whichever.  These images were made using quantum dots arranged on a surface of CNTs using optical tweezers.  I know that sounds like I lifted lines from a Phillip K. Dick novel, but those are all real things.

1.  Nano Landmarks



Now, while the others are pretty impressive already, these ones ranked higher because no one needed to pull any clever color manipulation to make them stand out.  They are immediately and easily identifiable landmarks rendered in 3-D at a scale only visible with an electron microscope. It’s easy to imagine bacterial Mongols being held at bay, or a group of amoeba druids praying to the moon. Or maybe that’s just me.

Written By David Dietle

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  1. smiley faces and pacman on

    Boy!! the description on pacman to smiley faces and to santa are JUST SUPPERB —— I browsed like 50 of this top tenz i have been so tired AND on the verge of collapse,,…THIS THING showed up ( it just made my day),,,, GooD JoB ON ThE Description twisT ……. HA…..those were F_ _ _ uP ,,,,,,, hahahaha! :’-) 🙂 :-0

  2. Nice list, amazing what they can do these days… Having said that the Nano Santa looks like the color was photo-shopped on sneaky…

    Thanks for the list.