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The Smallest Color Inkjet Photo Ever Made is Invisible to the Human Eye



Believe it or not, what you see here is the world’s smallest color inkjet photo ever printed. It’s so small that it’s invisible to the naked eye: you’ll need a microscope to see the shot, which shows clown fishes hanging around their sea anemone home.

The photo was made by researchers at ETH Zurich and a project spin-off start-up company called Scrona. Using a groundbreaking technology called 3D NanoDrip that was invented at the university, the team was able to print the photo onto an area that measures 80×115 micrometers, or about 0.0092 square millimeters.

That’s the equivalent of the cross-section of a single strand of human hair, or a single pixel found on an ultra-high-resolution Retina display.

The photo is about the cross-sectional area of a human hair.
The photo is about the cross-sectional area of a human hair. (This is an illustration).

This scale was achieved thanks to something called quantum dots (QD), or nanoparticles that are made to emit light of a specific color. Layers of QDs were printed in 24-bit color at a resolution of 25,000 DPI — Retina displays are “only” 264 PPI — with a distance of just 500 nanometers between the dots.

The remarkably small photo that resulted has been officially awarded the world’s “smallest inkjet-printed colour image” by Guinness World Records.

If you’d like to own a micron scale photo of your own, that’s actually possible. Scrona is running a Kickstarter campaign for a credit card-sized microscope called µPeek that attaches to your smartphone. Contribute $594, and in addition to a µPeek, you’ll also receive a micron photo made with any photo of your choice.

(via ETH Zurich via Engadget)

Image credits: Smallest photo by Scrona/ETH Zurich, and human hair illustration based on photo by WarOnTomato