Re: Microscopic Prototype

From: Guy Allen Brady (
Date: Thu Sep 11 1997 - 23:53:52 EEST

Since when did every part produced in a novel way become a "prototype"?

On Thu, 11 Sep 1997, Scott "Scooter" Sutterer wrote:

> We are always wanting to make smaller and more detailed parts. See the
> article in the sci/tech area of Scientists at Cornell
> University have built a guitar so small it could fit inside a single
> human blood cell. The guitar is 2 microns long. Each of six strings is
> about 50 nanometers, or 100 atoms, wide. It would be interesting to see
> this process commercialized and used on a larger scale that the rp
> community could use

Can you imagine how many other useful devices were produced before this
sexy guitar? I've seen many devices fabricated by these folks which
are much more complex - acutal machines with gears, springs, levers and
even small pumps which can electrochemically separate picoliter quantities
of liquid mixtures (can anyone say mini-implantable drug-delivery
devices???) all of which can function at amazing speed (hardly any inertia
at these small scales - think about it). The fabrication techniques are
much the same as how many VLSI circuits are produced today (i.e. computer
chips) and are not cheap processes. They take many many steps to complete
- oh, and by the way, you need a class 1000 cleanroom or better to do this
in as well as gallons of nasty chemicals which make SLA resin look like
chip dip.

They've been working on this stuff for years and it took a pretty useless
(compared to all they stuff they've made already) gimmick to get the
attention of mainstream press, then us. At least had their
sci/tech section 80% science and 20% cybercrap and not the other way

If you're looking for the next step to commercialization of
microfabrication, try doing a literature search on Prof. George Whitesides
(Chemistry, Harvard U.) (see Science, vol. 273, p. 347 19July1996 or
Advanced Materials, vol. 8 no. 10, p. 837, 1996 for starters) this guy has
a gold mine on his hands.

Hope the editorializing wasn't too unbearable.

          G. Allen Brady -- Graduate Research Assistant
Materials Science and Engineering - The University of Michigan
2219 H.H. Dow Bldg. 2300 Hayward Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2136
work: 313/936-0177 fax: 313/747-4807 email:

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