25/07/2012 08:23 BST | Updated 23/09/2012 10:12 BST

Student Peter Kremer Makes Miniature Olympic Torch 'No One Can See'

A student has created his very own Olympic Torch - 100,000 times smaller than the original.

Peter Kremer, from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, accidentally reproduced the torch on the nanoscale while carrying out research into light particles.

He was trying to make an antenna to help funnel a wave of light into and out of a quantum dot - a portion of matter whose smallest parts are confined in all three spatial dimensions.

peter kremer torch

Peter Kremer's 'nano-torch'

The 28-year-old PhD student came up with the nano-torch a month ago while experimenting with cones to channel the light down.

The tiny torch measures nine micrometres in length and tapers down from a diameter of 1,600 nanometres at the top to 80 nanometres at the base.

A nanometre (nm) is one-billionth of a metre - about a hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair.

Mr Keemer, who is originally from Germany, and now lives in Scotland, wanted to give the microscopic torches to friends as presents to mark the Olympics, but they are invisible to the naked eye.

He said: "The nano-torch was a by-product of my PhD project. I noticed that it was uncannily like the Olympic Torch - only 100,000 times smaller.

"My project is creating an antenna to help funnel a wave of light into and out of something called a quantum dot, which is at the bottom of the torch's tip.

"Basically, it works much like a rooftop antenna for TV signals. The antenna compresses the signal sent by the TV station so that it's 1,000 times smaller and can travel down a copper wire to the television set.

"The great thing about this design is that it's broadband - you get lots of different TV channels at different frequencies without the need to adjust your antenna. We want to do the same thing - send light of different colours into the nano-antenna, which then sends it down to the quantum dot.

"It's not often that quantum engineering throws up recognisable objects and shapes, so I was quite pleased that my nano-antenna resembles the Olympic Torch so much."

He added: "I like sports and I'm looking forward to the Olympics. I wanted to give them out to people as presents, but no-one can see them."