Carbon nanotube Cupid perfect for tiny crushes

This teeny-weeny expression of love can't fail to impress. Just be sure to include a microscope.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak

Cupid's arm is the width of a human hair. Brigham Young University

If you like someone just a teeny-weeny bit, this Cupid is your ticket to love on Valentine's Day.

Physics students at Brigham Young University crafted this nifty god from carbon nanotubes that are 10,000 times smaller than a human hair.

The researchers began by laying down microscopic iron "seeds" to form a Cupid pattern. When they applied a heated gas to the iron, the seeds sprouted into the desired shape.

Each nanotube is 99 percent air, and measures roughly 20 atoms across; the structure is very fragile.

However, by coating the tubes in metals or other materials, they become more stable.

The process has allowed BYU physics professor Robert Davis and colleagues to create structures such as the BYU logo, as well as practical, very precise micro-filters.

"One application is in the area of compressed gases like oxygen in the areas of health care, mining operations or scuba diving," Davis was quoted as saying in a release. "Compressed gas systems can generate particles that need to be filtered out."

The nano-Cupid follows a somewhat similar feat though on a smaller scale -- in 2009, Brigham researchers spelled "BYU" using strands of DNA.

So what do you have planned for Valentine's? Got any scientastic ways of saying "I grok you"?