Oil­ers go re­ally, re­ally small

Nan­otech­nol­ogy team cre­ates Oil­ers logo so small 900 million fit on top of puck

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

While many hockey fans go big with their pride come play­off time, re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Al­berta have gone small — re­ally, re­ally small.

Nan­otech­nol­ogy ex­perts at the school have cre­ated what they say is the small­est Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers logo in the world at 2.4 mi­crons in di­am­e­ter.

That’s smaller than the width of a hu­man hair and so teeny that 900 million of the lo­gos can fit on the top of a puck.

The logo was cre­ated as part of a test of a new nano­ma­te­rial, called hy­dro­gen silsesquiox­ane, and a new al­go­rithm that al­lows for the cre­ation of denser pat­terns.

“Rather than just do­ing some sort of ran­dom demo pat­tern of a bunch of lines and dots and squares and cir­cles ... we just de­cided, well, the Oil­ers are in the play­offs, it’s an in­ter­est­ing de­sign be­cause it’s got a lot of small fea­tures be­tween the let­ters, it’s got curves. Why don’t we just use that?” Eric Flaim, a di­rec­tor of the univer­sity’s Nanofab­ri­ca­tion and Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion Fa­cil­ity, known as NanoFab, said Fri­day.

The logo was cre­ated us­ing a beam of elec­trons. The elec­trons cre­ate a chem­i­cal re­ac­tion that causes some of the nano­ma­te­rial to be­come un­sta­ble, al­low­ing it to be re­moved with an­other chem­i­cal and leav­ing be­hind the pat­tern.

“The elec­trons act like ink out of a pen,” Flaim said.

Pic­tures of the logo were taken by the univer­sity’s $3-million he­lium ion mi­cro­scope. There are only three in Canada and 50 in the world.

The process, start to fin­ish, took four to five hours, Flaim said.

Re­searchers did the same thing when the NHL Oil­ers made a run to the Stan­ley Cup fi­nal in 2006, but this ver­sion is said to be 40 times smaller.

It’s a good demon­stra­tion of how far nanoscience has come in the last decade, said Flaim.

“This is the slow march of progress.”

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