An image of a Playboy centrefold has been shrunk down to the width of a human hair by scientists in Singapore. A team from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) printed a colour photo, measuring just 50 micrometres across. The photo is a crop of the portrait of Lena Soderberg, a Swedish model, that originally appeared in a 1972 issue of Playboy. It is a commonly-used image for testing printing techniques.
In the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers stated that the device could produce colour images of up to 100,000 dots per inch – 10 times as many as a high-end home printer. The method could be used to print tiny watermarks or secret messages for security purposes, said the scientists. ”Our colour-mapping strategy produces images with both sharp colour changes and fine tonal variations, is amenable to large-volume colour printing… and could be useful in making micro-images for security,” the team wrote in its research paper.
According to Chad Mirkin, a nanotechnology professor from Chicago’s Northwestern University who was not involved in the study, the result is “approaching the limit of what is possible to print in colour”. If the pixels were brought any closer, light reflecting off them would diffract, causing the two objects to blur together. To obtain the image, the team used tiny silver and gold particles, which, when arranged in a certain manner, produced colour. Edited from Playboy centrefold photo shrunk to width of human hair.