Odyssey -- for adventures in science!

Mystery Photo

What in the world is it?

Mystery Photo
Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.

Credit: (Dustin W. Carr and Harold G. Craighead, Cornell.)

What In the World Is It?

It’s a guitar. But not just any guitar. What you see here is an electron-microscope image of the world’s smallest guitar. The image is based roughly on the design of the Fender Stratocaster, a popular electric guitar. Its length is 10 millionths of a meter – approximately the size of a red blood cell and about 1/20th the width of a single human hair. Its strings have a width of about 50 billionths of a meter (the size of approximately 100 atoms). Plucking the tiny strings would produce a high-pitched sound at the inaudible frequency of approximately 10 megahertz.

Made by Cornell researchers with a single silicon crystal, this tiny guitar is a playful example of nanotechnology, in which scientists are building machines and structures on the scale of billionths of a meter to perform useful technological functions and study processes at the submicroscopic level.


Copyright © 2001 Cobblestone Publishing