In 1872, French artist Claude Monet painted an image of the harbor outside his window in the city of Le Havre and — on a whim — titled it Impression, Sunrise. That single painting would give rise to an entire movement called Impressionism.

Fast forward 142 years, and Monet’s image has been scaled down to 300 micrometers in what’s being called the world’s smallest recreated masterpiece. It’s pretty small, all right — about the size of a single pixel on a standard 17-inch computer monitor.

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Scientists at the Singapore University of Technology and Design managed the feat by way of aluminum nanostructures that generate a full spectrum of color when struck by light.

Rather than applying paint to a surface, the technicians replicated the image by using the structures to scatter light on a microscopic scale, producing a palette of around 300 distinct colors.

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According to the study abstract, published by the journal Nano Letters: “Our work expands the visible color space through spatially mixing and adjusting the nanoscale spacing of discrete nanostructures.”

I trust that all makes sense, but my nanotech files are just a mess. In any case, the technology isn’t just pretty — the research team hopes the technique will have practical applications in information storage, security tagging and cryptography.

via New Scientist

Photo: Nano Letters