Using a unique 3D NanoDrip printing technology, scientists at the Swiss university ETH Zurich and startup Scrona produced the smallest ink-jet printed color image in the world.
At an astounding size of 0.0092 square millimeters or 80 µm x 115 µm, the micro-image depicts a school of three clownfish swimming around their sea anemone home. The micro-image itself is similar to the size of a cross-section of a strand of human hair and to that of a single pixel on a retina display.
By placing independently-colored quantum dots (QDs) into exact patterns, experts successfully created this 24-bit photorealistic clownfish micro-image. The process can be compared to the method of combining and depositing color inks, which is done by a conventional inkjet printer.
How Can You View A Micro-image?
The photo is so small that you need a specialized microscope to see it.
Luckily, Scrona has developed a credit card-sized microscope called µPeek which will allow you to view the image. This microscope can even connect wirelessly to smartphones, enabling you to capture images and see them at the nano-level.
The µPeek is the first ever smartphone microscope to combine the ability of full-sized microscopes with pleasing artistic functions, portability and user-friendly operation via an iOS or Android app.
The gadget can be secured onto the smartphone thru a slide holder. To use it, you can stick the slide holder to the sticky tape and attach the gadget to the smartphone.
How Was The Micro-image Created?
Scrona is currently offering copies of the µPeek in its Kickstarter project so that anyone can have the chance to receive their own micro-images. These micro-images are produced through ETH Zurich's novel 3D NanoDrip printing technology.
The 3D NanoDrip tech can seriously perform what even upscale computer chip fabric processes would not be able to accomplish, Scrona said.
Through this tech, scientists can condense an image to the size of a grain of salt. The condensed image will be made of fluorescent nanoparticles, and will only be visible as a blinking dot to your naked eye.
Of course, you will only be able to see the image through the µPeek. It's definitely a cool way to impress your friends and your family.
Meanwhile, Scrona plans to introduce µPeek for the use of schools and individuals. The startup wants to build a community where anyone with µPeek can share their images and exchange what they captured on optimal illumination settings.
"We would be delighted if this could encourage remote diagnostics or simply introduce people to the full beauty of life," said Scrona.