Glass-etching allows nano-sized engravings

19th October 2011 - Fine Cut

An new etching antennae made from glass is capable of making engravings with dots one-hundredth of the size of a human hair.

According to MIT News, Nicholas Fang, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes it is a "fascinating advancement" that can produce a better cut than nanoimprint lithography - a more expensive method of doing such small-scale imprints.

This advanced form of precision engraving can be used for creating diagnostic sensors, which can separate molecules into constituent parts with the right microchips.

A test image produced by Mr Fang and his team's glass-etching technique saw a number of nano-sized shapes drawn on silver, including an ionic column.

He said: "I was inspired by glassblowers, who actually use their skills to form bottles and beakers. Even though we think of glass as fragile, at the molten stage it is actually very malleable and soft, and can quickly and smoothly take the shape of a plaster mould."

While Mr Fang's research has shown the modern potential of engraving, the Mail Online recently reported on the history of the practice, with the oldest known Christian engraving having been translated and dated.

Etched on to a stone in Greek, the engraving known as NCE 156 is believed to be from the latter half of the second century. The experts working on the artefact believe the piece is a funeral epigram.

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