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The Smallest Complete Works of Robert Burns

It is very easy to carry around but it is not the easiest book to read with the naked eye - it's the world's smallest edition of the complete works of Robert Burns.


Engineers from the University of Glasgow produced it to highlight their world-leading nanotechnology expertise.

Almost invisible to the naked eye, the complete work is so small that 10 of them could fit onto 1 square mm, about the size of a pin head.

Using electron beam lithography to write letters of only 25 nm linewidth (equivalent to fonts of 0.001 point size or 1/36,000th the diameter of a human hair), Dr Stephen Thoms from the University's School of Engineering wrote and then etched the complete works of Robert Burns onto a 5 mm square silicon chip.

Dr Thoms said: "Our nanotechnology is among the best in the world but sometimes explaining to the public what the technology is capable of can be a bit tricky.

Burns2 "We decided that writing the complete works of Robert Burns onto a silicon chip was a simple way to show just how accurate our technology is. The process to manufacture the card only took 5 minutes.

The silicon chips were produced in the University of Glasgow's James Watt Nanofabrication Centre which is one of the top nanofabrication centres in the world.

Although the complete works of Robert Burns example is a simple demonstration, the underlying technology has some very important real world applications.

The electronics industry is taking advantage of micro and nano-fabrication technology by using it in bio-technology, sensing, photonic and many other technologies that are core to applications such as healthcare, communications and defence. These applications and the research and development the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre undertakes with many U.K. companies to develop new innovative products as well as cheap methods of manufacture are critical in the future for the U.K. economy in a number of advanced technology markets.

Researchers at Glasgow produced the first edition of the smallest Complete Works of Robert Burns a number of years ago but in August 2011, Professor Anne Glower, the Chief Scientific Advisory to the Scottish Government is presenting the potential benefits of nanotechnology to the Scottish Parliament in a series of talks. Prof Glover will be handing out nanofabricated copies of the smallest Edition of the Complete Works of Robert Burns to the MSPs after her talks, all of which were fabricated in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre in Glasgow.

A guide to nanotechnology for non-experts can be found here with a number of the slides being used by Professor Glover. Further details of the research at Glasgow as well as many examples of the technologies being researched can be found at http://www.jwnc.gla.ac.uk/