UT Dallas Magazine

Check Out This Microscopic Piece of Patriotic Art

This tiny American flag — less than one-tenth the width of a human hair — was created in the lab of Dr. Moon Kim, professor of materials science and engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. Kim and his graduate students use high-tech microscopes to fabricate and study new nanomaterials for use in advanced electronics.

The nanoflag is a false-color close-up of the flag structure in the greyscale “nanoart” image below, titled “Flag on the Brink.” Aaron Klick, a student in the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication, added the color to the image.

The structure was created in 2006 by Kim’s graduate student JangBae Jeon.

The flag is made from silicon, the stars and stripes are platinum, and the flagpole is a carbon nanotube. The flag itself is about 8 micrometers wide and 5 micrometers high.

The 3-D structure is mounted on the tip of an atomic force microscope probe, shown below, which is used to characterize material properties.

Jeon used a focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope with a nanomanipulator to create the detailed 3-D structure with subtle features, down to the nanometer scale — that’s roughly on the scale of individual molecules.

Amanda Siegfried