It’s the time of year to be happy and what better way to celebrate than to put a big Christmas tree in your living room?
However, an applied physics student at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands had a different view of what her Christmas tree would look like this year.
“See, the smallest #ChristmasTree in the world!” Read a TU Delft post Office on twitter.
Indeed, Maura Willems decided to create what is arguably the smallest Christmas tree in the world.
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The equipment Willems used was much larger than the tree it had ultimately created. The complex device was a scanning tunneling microscope that could be used to scan individual atoms to build small structures.
It literally does this one atom at a time to study the individual quantum mechanical properties of each atom.
In the end, Willems had a “big” Christmas tree with 51 atoms, which is roughly the size of a strand of DNA. To deliver an idea, it’s about a human hair 40,000 times wider. We talk small.
Willems’ tree was accurate four nanometers in size, or four millionths of a millimeter – without counting the treetops.
See, the smallest in the world #Christmas tree! 🎄
It consists of 51 atoms that #Physics Student Maura Willems removed from a perfect crystal lattice. The tree is 4 millionths of a millimeter (4 nm) high (without counting the canopy). #toodleshttps://t.co/6b2NmqezZF pic.twitter.com/4uE4RHVQOf
– TU Delft (@tudelft) December 21, 2020
It’s fun to see such complex devices build a joyful creation like a Christmas tree. It might not be very useful, but it’s a little light-hearted physics fun.
There’s not a big chance you can buy a Christmas bobble like this, but here’s a list of things to buy this season if you’re looking for a little last-minute inspiration.