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World’s tiniest periodic table etched on a hair

Scientists have written what they believe is the world's smallest periodic table — on a strand of human hair.

Experts at Nottingham University created the table — which is so small that one million of them could be replicated on a standard post-it note — using a combination of an ion beam writer and electron microscope.

The symbols of all 118 elements were etched into the strand of hair taken from Professor Martyn Poliakoff, a chemist. It was then presented to him as a birthday present.

Prof Poliakoff said: “Although the application was light-hearted I felt that it enabled us to show people how such nano-writing is done.”

The team from the Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre also entered the festive spirit and took advantage of the wintry weather by engraving the words ‘Merry Christmas’ onto a snowflake.

Philip Moriarty, professor of physics, said: “Although writing on a snowflake is on one hand a bit of seasonal fun, it's also a neat demonstration of the powerful capabilities of the tools that scientists use in the lab.”

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