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Aug 06, 2013 09:23 AM EDT

University Researchers Paint ‘Mona Lisa’ On the World’s Smallest Canvas

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Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created the world's most famous art work; 'Mona Lisa' on a surface that measures only 30 microns across, just a third of the width of a human hair.

The paper, 'Fabricating Nanoscale Chemical Gradients with ThermoChemical NanoLithography', is published online in the journal Langmuir.

The team created 'Mini Lisa,' by using an atomic force microscope and a process known as ThermoChemical NanoLithography (TCNL).

According to livescience, each 125-nanometer pixel of the miniature 'Mona Lisa' represents an individual chemical reaction.

The Georgia Tech team placed a heated cantilever at the substrate surface to develop a series of restricted nanoscale chemical reactions. By altering only the heat at each location, Ph.D. Candidate Keith Carroll could control the number of new molecules that were created.

This process resulted in the creation of different colors. More heat created lighter shades of grey while less heat produced darker shades.

 "By tuning the temperature, our team manipulated chemical reactions to yield variations in the molecular concentrations on the nanoscale," said Jennifer Curtis, an associate professor in the School of Physics and the study's lead author. "The spatial confinement of these reactions provides the precision required to generate complex chemical images like the Mini Lisa."

This technique can be useful in the future; particularly for the nano-manufacturing of devices because production of chemical concentration gradients and variations on the sub-micrometer scale are difficult to achieve with other techniques, according to the published paper.

 "We envision TCNL will be capable of patterning gradients of other physical or chemical properties, such as conductivity of graphene," Curtis said. "This technique should enable a wide range of previously inaccessible experiments and applications in fields as diverse as nanoelectronics, optoelectronics and bioengineering."

Besides its practical applications, the technology can be used widely to shrink famous paintings, reports Science World Report.

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