Scientists Create World's Smallest Snowman (w/ Video)

December 4, 2009 by Lisa Zyga, weblog
The world's smallest snowman measures 0.01 mm across, with a nose just 0.001 mm wide. Credit: National Physical Laboratory.

( -- David Cox, a scientist in the Quantum Detection group at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK, is an expert in nanofabrication techniques. Recently, using the tools of his trade and a bit of humor, he has created his latest masterpiece: the world's smallest snowman, which measures just 0.01 mm across (about one-fifth the width of a human hair).

Cox created the snowman "by hand" using a system for manipulating nanoparticles. Rather than being made out of snow, the figure's head and body consist of two tiny beads that are normally used to calibrate lenses. Cox welded the beads together with a tiny bit of platinum, and then used a focused ion beam to carve the eyes and smile. Lastly, he used an ion beam to deposit a tiny blob of for the nose, which is less than one wide.

As shown in the video, the snowman is mounted on a silicon cantilever from an atomic force microscope, whose sharp tip is used to feel surfaces in order to create topographic surveys at very small scales.

While Cox's snowman holds the record for the smallest, MyFox News notes that the tallest snowman record is still held by the town of Bethel, Maine. Residents of the town built a snowman with a towering height of 113 feet, 7 inches, on February 17, 1999.

More information:

via: The Telegraph

© 2009

Explore further: Video: Swine flu health tips

Related Stories

Foldable phone opens into large OLED screen

November 24, 2008

( -- A new cell phone developed by Samsung opens like a book to reveal a larger OLED screen, essentially turning the phone into a portable media player. Samsung recently demonstrated the prototype at the FPD International ...

Dyson Unveils His Bladeless Fan (w/ Videos)

October 14, 2009

( -- James Dyson, inventor of the bag-less vacuum cleaners has taken his invention one step further with the unveiling of the bladeless fan. Using 'Air Multiplier' technology the bladeless fan pushes 119 gallons ...

Recommended for you

Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines

July 20, 2018

Scientists at the Mainz University Medical Center and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have developed a new method to enable miniature drug-filled nanocarriers to dock on to immune cells, which in turn ...

Splitting water: Nanoscale imaging yields key insights

July 18, 2018

In the quest to realize artificial photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel—just as plants do—researchers need to not only identify materials to efficiently perform photoelectrochemical ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
Cute, but aren't snowmen usually made out of ... snow?
not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
Cute, but aren't snowmen usually made out of ... snow?

Wouldn't you rather have one made out of platinum though? :)
not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
most of the snowmen in the world at any one time including winter are made from other materials,lol,true snowmen are a minority.
I"m with danman5000 make mine a very overweight one say 1000 lbs of pure platinum.
not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
Red "Ring 0.01 mm diameter" which means the obviously wider head behind the ring must be about 0.0115 mm diameter. And the head is the least wide part! I estimate body width at approx. 0.0175 mm which, using less rough approximation than the author, is pushing 0.02 mm.

Also, I support fossilator's suspicion that a snowman should be made of snow. This is a beadman. No tiny snowman record here ... only more poor science reporting.
not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
Imagine the poor dust mite that comes face to face with this snowman.
Dec 06, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.