This teeny, tiny artwork is the world’s smallest comic strip – etched on to a single strand of human hair. Entitled “Juana Knits The Planet”, the comic includes 12 panels, each measuring 25 micrometers – that’s about one third the diameter of a hair. The etching was created using an atom-firing ‘focused ion beam’.


From the expert

“It took our team less than two hours to etch and can only be seen through a microscope,” says Sebastien Bourdeauducq, chairman of the Exceptional Hardware Software Meeting (EHSM).

The follicle feature was made to promote next month’s Exceptional Hardware Software Meeting (EHSM) open source conference in Hamburg, Germany.


Technical challenge

Drawing on a follicle started out as a bit of a hair-raising experience. “Hair is a good electrical insulator, so as we bombarded it with ions, it retained an electric charge that deflected the ion beam and made the etching impossible,”
said Bourdeauducq. “This was quickly solved by coating the hair with a conductive
layer of metal prior to the etching.”

Technological demo

When asked why to etch on hair, Bourdeauducq offered his explanation: “It’s something that normal people can relate to, so it’s a friendly way of demonstrating the advances of focused ion beam technology, which is used to develop microchips that power our everyday items, like computers and mobile phones.”