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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Tiny periodic table

by Laura Howes
March 21, 2019

An SEM image of a tiny periodic table flanked by tiny portraits of two men.
An SEM of a tiny periodic table.

The top image is a scanning electron micrograph depicting some chemistry giants shrunk down to microscopic size, with Dimitri Mendeleev (left) and Yuri Oganessian (right) on either side of a super tiny periodic table of the elements. In 2011, Nottingham scientists created the world’s smallest periodic table on a hair belonging to chemistry professor Martyn Poliakoff. That table measured 90 by 46 μm. This new table (detail in the bottom image) is just 14 by 7 μm.

Richard Cousins created the periodic table and portraits using electron beam lithography. “Electron beam lithography uses a beam of high energy electrons to define a pattern on a thin polymer film, referred to as a resist,” Cousins explains. “When the beam hits the chip, it interacts with the resist, causing its properties to change.” Developing the resist transfers the pattern onto a silicon chip, which is then further processed. The result was given to Oganessian when he visited the University of Nottingham on March 13, 2019.

Credit: Richard Cousins/nmRC

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