The item is smaller in dimension than a thread of human hair.

The item is smaller in dimension than a thread of human hair.

A group of researchers from the ORNL (short for Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences have managed to use a 3D printer to create the tiniest fidget spinner on Earth. A rather astounding feat, the toy stands small at the tenth part of a millimeter, officially measuring 100 microns.

This endeavor stands proof as to the uncanny resources available in the ORNL Center, which are public-access, seeing how any team of scientists can appeal to them at will, according to an analysis from website The scientific potential of such resources is immense.

The device that was used to print out the fidger spinner is called a nanoscribe machine, which can be used for other astounding feats of nanotechnology as well. For example, it can direct a focused laser beam onto a liquid and microscopically transform it into a solid, becoming what is known as a microfluidic device.

This type of technology permits people of science to build items that allow them to create microscale devices with full functionality and fully mobile components.

The above clip greatly details the technique.

The first step of the process is the design, which is conceived on a CAD program (short for Computer Aided Design). The digital file is then cut up into electronic slices, much alike to the method employed in 3D printing. The digital layers are then stacked one on top of the other and the final form of the device comes into being.

Upon design completion, one drop of special liquid is applied to a small bit of silicon wafer, which is then added inside the nanoscribe machine.

Afterwards, the beam of laser employed to transform the liquid into a microfluidic device is directed at its focal point – as the scientist explains, it is the point of maximum density and concentration of the substance, being the only point where the laser can be focused in order to successfully convert the substance.

The process is very similar to the method that a 3D printing machine employs in order to create solid items. Such a machine employs what is termed a “squirt nozzle” that moves in 3 dimensions so as to build the design that it has been fed layer by layer. Very similarly, the laser beam with which the nanoscribe machine is equipped slashes around the substance at hand, building a very thin, very sensitive pattern, according to the original digital file built on the CAD program. Slowly, but surely, this turns the liquid into a solid object.

This is the process that gave birth to the smallest fidget spinner the world has ever seen.


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