For the Holidays - Technion releases first ever nano-Bible

The entire vowelled-Hebrew text of the Bible has been inscribed by Technion scientists on a gold-coated silicon surface smaller than the head of a pin.

This is not an attempt to make the holy book more portable, but an exercise meant to arouse public interest in nanotechnology. It was part of an educational program developed at the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology aimed especially at young people.

The idea to inscribe the whole biblical text using a focussed-ion device was that of Prof. Uri Sivan, director of the Berrie Institute, and the project was carried out by Ohad Zohar, the center's physics education adviser, along with Dr. Alex Lahav, formerly lab director of the Wolfson Center for Microelectronics.

The device shoots gallium ions toward a solid object, causing atoms to erode and thus creating an inscription, the way holes are formed in the ground when a rubber hose splashes water on it with great force.

When the ions are shot at the surface, gold ions are removed from a 20-nanometer-wide spot to expose the darker silicon substrate underneath. A nanometer is equal to one billionth of meter or one millionth of a millimeter. The resulting letters can be observed only with a scanning electron microscope.

The nano-Bible was produced at the Technion with a special computer program that can create any text on a tiny surface.

The question of "How small can the Bible be?" is really about the larger question of how to store data in a very small space. In the future, nanotechnology experts hope to inscribe data on DNA or other bio-molecules.

The fact that the Bible contains a large amount of text - about 10 million bits - was a major factor in choosing to store it at high density on silicon, the researchers said. "The nano-Bible project was aimed at displaying the miniaturization ability we have," said Sivan.

The nano-Bible will be photographed and expanded 10,000 times, and still be able to fit into a seven-by-seven-meter frame, to be hung in the Technion's physics faculty. The photograph will make it possible to read the entire Bible with the naked eye, and the height of each letter will be three millimeters.

Zohar said the original nano-Bible, the size of a crystal of sugar, would be displayed next to the photograph.

A part of the nano-Bible.


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