Nanotechnology team creates Oilers logo so small 900 million fit on top of puck

Oilers logo smaller than the width of a hair

EDMONTON — While many hockey fans go big with their pride come playoff time, researchers at the University of Alberta have gone small — really, really small.

Nanotechnology experts at the school have created what they say is the smallest Edmonton Oilers logo in the world at 2.4 microns in diameter.

That’s smaller than the width of a human hair and so teeny that 900 million of the logos can fit on the top of a puck.

The logo was created as part of a test of a new nanomaterial, called hydrogen silsesquioxane, and a new algorithm that allows for the creation of denser patterns.

“Rather than just doing some sort of random demo pattern of a bunch of lines and dots and squares and circles … we just decided, well, the Oilers are in the playoffs, it’s an interesting design because it’s got a lot of small features between the letters, it’s got curves. Why don’t we just use that?” Eric Flaim, a director of the university’s Nanofabrication and Characterization Facility, known as NanoFab, said Friday. 

The logo was created using a beam of electrons. The electrons create a chemical reaction that causes some of the nanomaterial to become unstable, allowing it to be removed with another chemical and leaving behind the pattern.

“The electrons act like ink out of a pen,” Flaim said.

Pictures of the logo were taken by the university’s $3-million helium ion microscope. There are only three in Canada and 50 in the world.

The process, start to finish, took four to five hours, Flaim said.

Researchers did the same thing when the NHL Oilers made a run to the Stanley Cup final in 2006, but this version is said to be 40 times smaller.

It’s a good demonstration of how far nano-science has come in the last decade, said Flaim.

“This is the slow march of progress.”

The Oilers are playing the Anaheim Ducks in the semifinal of the Western Conference.



Tim Cook, The Canadian Press

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