A researcher at Western University’s Nanofabrication Facility in Ontario, Canada, has built the world’s smallest snowman, measuring an extremely petite 3 microns tall. To put this in perspective, a human hair will typically be 50-75 microns (or micrometers) thick.
The tiny snowman was made using a stack of silica spheres — water crystals would be far too large for a sculpture of this stature. Each of the three globes is a mere 0.9 microns (0.0009 millimeters) in diameter. The arms and carrot-like nose are made from platinum, and the facial features were carved using the lab’s new focused ion beam.
"I came across this little stack of three that looked like a little snowman, so I put a face and arms on him with the annotation feature — I just drew them on," said the snowman’s builder, Todd Simpson. Simpson first thought of the idea when he encountered three spheres that were stacked due to an experimental error in 2005.
Simpson used the micrograph of the snowman to make Christmas cards. He says that the actual construction was quite simple, provided you have the equipment.
"It requires some pretty sophisticated instruments and a lot of experience but it’s actually quite easy. I think the arms took about 10 seconds each and the nose was two or three seconds."