News & Events

An Illusory Object Discovered by Professor Kokichi Sugihara has been Reproduced as the World Smallest “Impossible Object”

Jan. 11, 2019

Microscopic impossible objects in three sizes

Microscopic impossible objects in three sizes

Electron-microscope images

Electron-microscope images
An illusory object created as part of the research of Professor Kokichi Sugihara, Director of the Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences (MIMS), has been reproduced (3D printed) as a microscopic impossible object at the size of a red blood cell, using the FluidFM 3D printing technology of Cytosurge (Switzerland).

Enabled for the first time ever by combining the microscopic 3D printing technology developed by Cytosurge with mathematical data describing an impossible object, this object has been 3D printed successfully from solid copper in a tiny size of 0.1-mm-diameter, a very tiny size of 0.03-mm-diameter, and an extremely tiny size of 0.01-mm-diameter. The 0.01-mm (10-micrometer) size is about the same size as a human red blood cell.

The illusion of this microscopic impossible object has been confirmed using high-resolution electron-microscope imaging.

FluidFM Printing Technology
This technology, originally invented at ETH Zurich, uses a tiny pipette with a 300-nm-wide opening to do local electrodeposition of metals, in this case copper. The hollow FluidFM nanopipette is brought into proximity (~1µm) of a conductive surface and a metal ion containing liquid is ejected. A negative potential applied to the surface reduces the ejected copper ions to solid atoms, which deposit just below the pipette opening. Once the gap between surface and pipette is filled with the solid copper atoms, the pipette moves to the next position, repeating the deposition and like this a 3D object is created.

Cytosurge AG is an ETH spin-off founded in 2009 that successfully develops, manufactures and distributes state-of-the-art nanotechnology solutions based on its patented FluidFM® technology.
Cytosurge created the award-winning FluidFM µ3Dprinter for 3D metal printing at the micrometer scale, the FluidFM ADD-ON, a powerful upgrade solution for your AFM, and the FluidFM BOT, a fully integrated system for cell research. Three leading-edge solutions, for those who want to go beyond current technological boundaries.