The Art of Invention : Atomic Art!

There’s an exhibition at the United States Patent and Trademark Office Museum (USPTO) which may require you to take your glasses along with you. “Art of Invention – Invention of Art” opened on the 15th at the Museum in Virginia.

On display will be two of the smallest works of art in the world; “The Quantum Corral” and “The Search For Quantum Chaos.” The atomic-sized images come out of the labs at IBM, using their low temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM). There’s an online gallery of more works and information on the process of how they are made (which I didn’t understand) at the IBM website here.

worlds smallest art ibmMade in IBM Labs: The World’s Tiniest Art on Display
“While experimenting with materials that might make up future computer chips and storage components, IBM scientists built beautiful structures out of individual atoms using a specialized microscope whose invention won two IBMers a Nobel Prize in 1986.” CNN Money

There’s also an interview with Don Eigler over at the American Scientist website, where he explains the process of making an image “We used a scanning tunneling microscope, in which a metal needle under computer control is made to move along the contours of the surface being imaged. The height of the needle at each location on a square grid of points is recorded as a number in the computer. This sequence of numbers representing the height of the surface at each point on the grid is then rendered by the computer to look like a three-dimensional solid.”
>> Art Exhibitions, Willard Wigan Sculpture Post

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. I like it when science and art cross over, two interests one! There are some more images that are related to art/science on the ‘art of science’ website, including these ants:

  2. Ooh and this one from the 2006 site, they have a prize for the best science image each year.

    This looks like a bit of modernist art but its actual purpose is an iron solution experiment.

  3. That second one looks like a Damien Hirst work Helly!

    And yeah, I like it when my other interests meet art too.


  4. That is so cool, what will they come up with next. I wonder what the value of such an artwork would be?

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