Everyone's heard of art miniatures – well, they are like giant murals compared with the images 'on display' at a unique exhibition opening soon at a US museum.
The STM – Scanning Tunnelling Microscope – art shows beautiful pictures sculpted out of individual atoms.
The name 'microscope' is a little misleading, as instead of looking at material, the STM 'feels' the surface.
And a scientist would be very hard pressed to look through one, as the tip is only one atom in diameter.
By detecting a weak electrical current between the tip of the microscope and the surface of the material, it maintains a constant distance, and maps out what the material looks like on the atomic level.
The process was developed in 1981 by scientists Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, who shared the Nobel physics prize five years later.
The first thing created using the STM was the letters 'IBM' in Xenon atoms, in honour of the firm's research lab in which they developed their technology.
The Art of Invention exhibition at the US Patent Museum in Alexandria, Virginia, will feature more than 70 works of art.
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