Can you believe that cell phones use to look like this? So big an heavy, and not even able to take pictures! How is it possible that our phones have gotten smaller and smaller, but are able to do more and more things? Hi I’m Mike Deagan and I’m researching optical materials at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Mike is studying ways to make the teeny, tiny computer chips that go into our phones. These chips have a lot of really tiny details, and they’re so small they can’t even be seen by the naked eye! They’re only a couple of nanometers big! To give you a sense of what a nanometer is, if you take the width of a human hair, that’s about 200,000 nanometers. Imagine how hard it would be to make something that small! Say you’re an apple farmer who’s trying to plant a bunch of trees in an orchard in very nice, neat lines… but you have to do this from the International Space Station! So, first off it’s really difficult to even be able to see what you’re doing And then to move stuff around is very difficult. Even when you’re trying your best to plant the seeds in a straight line, they’ll still be really far apart. This is similar to making the teeny, tiny computer chips. Since they are so tiny, it’s really hard to be accurate and put things in the right place. So, if these chips are so hard to make, how does Mike do it? Mike uses nanolithography, which is a way of using stamps to create these smaller computer chips. Just like the chips, the stamps are really tiny, so they can’t be made by hand. Scientists like Mike make these special stamps with light. This allows scientists to carve tiny details into each stamp. We’re stamping everything at the same time, and that’s a lot faster and cheaper than other techniques. Once you have one stamp, you can use it to make a bunch of other computer chips! All the tiny details on each chip will be really accurate, and each chip will be exactly the same. What do you think nanolithography will help us create in the future? Are you ready to take on your own challenge? Check out the activity on Curiosity Machine!