Love it or loathe it, when it comes to toys or the resurgence of a past trend, 2017 has been the year of the fidget spinner. And this addictive spinning craziness has also hit the scientific community, too.
According to a report by Phys.org, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s centre for Nanophase Materials Sciences have created the world’s tiniest fidget spinner. Coming at 1000 microns in width or one-tenth of a millimetre, the fidget spinner is as thin as a human hair strand.
The way researchers were able to achieve this rather unbelievable feat was a photon-based 3D printing technique using the Nanoscribe machine. Unlike conventional 3D printing which releases the compound to create layers, the system uses a laser light to basically dry out certain areas of a viscous liquid to carve it into a solid shape. The thick liquid is placed on a silicon wafer and inserted into the Nanoscribe machine. The entire creation is dependent on the focus of the light on the liquid. The light changes its intensity to add more dimension to the viscous liquid, leaving behind a detailed microscopic byproduct.
Once the process of 3D printing is complete, the fidget spinner is then taken out and cleansed in a set of liquids to get rid of unnecessary particles. Surprisingly, even with the fidget spinner being so tiny, it has an intact spinning mechanism and can spin like a regular spinner. However, to do this, the researchers had to put it under an optical microscope and blow compressed air from the sides.
The researchers apply this photon-based 3D printing technique for creating other minute creations necessary for certain machines and pieces of equipment.
Adam Rondinone, a researcher at the Oak Ridge said, “We felt like it would be an interesting demonstration for younger people who may not know that the federal government maintains these user facilities around the country, which anybody can use as long as they submit a successful proposal.”