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Karen Kavanagh (left) and Li Yang show the title page of Teeny Ted from Turnip Town, a Success Story by Malcolm Douglas Chaplin, in SFU's nano-imaging facility.

Karen Kavanagh (left) and Li Yang show the title page of Teeny Ted from Turnip Town, a Success Story by Malcolm Douglas Chaplin, in SFU's nano-imaging facility.

World's tiniest book

May 3, 2007

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By Marianne Meadahl

It's a big feat of the tiniest proportions. SFU's Nano Imaging Lab has produced the world's smallest published book. The only catch: you'll need a scanning electron microscope to read it.

At 0.07 mm X 0.10 mm, Teeny Ted from Turnip Town is a tinier read than the two smallest books currently cited by the Guinness Book of World Records: the New Testament of the King James Bible (5 X 5 mm, produced by MIT in 2001) and Chekhov's Chameleon (0.9 X 0.9 mm, Palkovic, 2002). By way of comparison, the head of a pin is about 2 mm.

Publisher Robert Chaplin produced the nano-scale book with the help of SFU scientists Li Yang and Karen Kavanagh. The team used a focused gallium-ion beam and one of the electron microscopes at SFU's nano-imaging facility.

With a minimum diameter of seven nanometers (a nanometer is about 10 atoms in size) the beam was programmed to carve the space surrounding each letter of the book. The book is made up of 30 micro-tablets, each carved on a polished piece of single-crystalline silicon, and has its own International Standard Book Number, ISBN-978-1-894897-17-4.

The story, written by Chaplin's brother Malcolm Douglas Chaplin, is a fable about Teeny Ted's victory in the turnip contest. Signature-edition copies are for sale for a not-so-teeny $20,000 each, electron microscope not included.

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