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Photos: Nanotech work turns on a dime

Researchers at Stanford use some tiny tools to extract material from a diamond chip perched on a coin.

Nanotech work turns on a dime

The diamond chip is the round, black spot tucked under the helmet wing on the Mercury dime.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

diamond chip

Nanotech work turns on a dime

Stanford graduate student Dan Pickard draws arrows with a probe. The arrows outline the top of the membrane and the division between two holes.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

Pikard

Nanotech work turns on a dime

Two holes are dug into the chip with an ion beam. The membrane that will be extracted is the line separating the two holes. The white particles surrounding the holes are diamond dust.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

holes

Nanotech work turns on a dime

The probe is now used to extract the membrane. The first attempt resulted in a chip breaking off, but a second attempt was successful. The probe's tip is bent from bumping into the hard surfaces.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

probe

Nanotech work turns on a dime

The membrane comes out.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

membrane

Nanotech work turns on a dime

The diamond membrane hovers over the oval in the 9 in the date printed on the dime.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

hovering

Nanotech work turns on a dime

With the chip removed, Pickard readies the probe and the focused ion beam for further cutting. The apparatus that looks like a cigarette is the ion beam system.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

ion beam

Nanotech work turns on a dime

Pickard welds the membrane down so it can be processed for the e-beam lithography system.

Credit: Dan Pickard, Fabian Pease and Heyjin Park

welding