In a feat of technical genius sure to have pleased even Leonardo da Vinci himself, scientists have created the smallest painting ever - a Mona Lisa a third of the width of a human hair.
This involves using a tiny heated cantilever to initiate nanoscale chemical reactions on a substrate surface pixel by pixel to create the 30-micron wide picture.
By varying the heat applied at each pixel the scientists could control its shade. More heat produced lighter shades, less heat produced darker shades. The technique is a step forward in the rapidly developing field of nanotechnology.
Jennifer Curtis, an associate professor in the School of Physics, said: "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."
Graphene is an incredibly exciting material made of a honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms.
Despite being only one atom thick, graphene is 100 times stronger than steel of the same width and is an excellent conducter.
It is hoped the material can be put to a multitude of uses including making the internet run up to times faster.