This Tiny Sculpture Is Perched Atop A Human Hair

Fine art at the microscale

Tiny Sculpture
Photograph by Jonty Hurwitz

The world’s smallest human figure, by artist Jonty Hurwitz, is only as tall as a sheet of paper is thick--just 100 microns. To "sculpt" it, he had nanoscientist Stefan Hengsbach direct long-wavelength light through a microscope onto a photosensitive polymer. This produced a single voxel, or 3D pixel, at the focal point. Following a digital model, Hengsbach repeated the process to build the figure one voxel at a time. The hyper accurate technique also has practical applications in medicine. For example, researchers can manufacture minuscule scaffolds for growing kidney tissue inside a patient’s body, eliminating the need for an organ transplant.

This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Popular Science.