Rather than a penny for your thoughts, it’s a penny for your flag

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR To see a video about the penny, visit thes­pec.com

The Cana­dian penny may have gone the way of the dodo bird now that it is no longer in use, but a re­search en­gi­neer at McMaster Univer­sity has had a bit of fun with the ol’ coin.

Travis Casagrande has in­serted a mi­cro­scopic Cana­dian flag on a pole that is 1/100th the di­am­e­ter of a hu­man hair. The flag, hid­den in the sur­face of the penny, is in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye.

To make the flag, Casagrande and his team fo­cused an ion beam mi­cro­scope, us­ing a beam of charged par­ti­cles to carve a tiny hole in the penny and leav­ing the flag­pole stand­ing in the cen­tre.

He moved the beam to a dif­fer­ent area and cut the flag shape from the ma­te­rial’s sur­face. Af­ter the flag was cut away from the penny, it was moved to the pole and “raised” by at­tach­ing it to the pole with a de­posited metal layer.

The Maple Leaf de­sign was carved into the flag us­ing the fo­cused beam. Why did he do all this, you ask? Casagrande said his team was in­spired by the op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th birth­day and to demon­strate the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the high-pow­ered mi­cro­scope at McMaster’s Cana­dian Cen­tre for Elec­tron Mi­croscopy.


A close-up of the flag in­serted on a penny by a McMaster engi­neer­ing team.

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