The Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo holds the new Guinness World Record for the smallest national flag, after creating a Canadian flag measuring about one one-hundredth the width of a human hair.
The flag, created on a silicon wafer, measures 1.178 micrometers in length and is invisible without having to use an electron microscope (which uses electrons as the source for illumination). It was created using the electron beam lithography system in the Quantum NanoFab facility at the university.
The wafer is etched with the official logo of the Canada 150 celebrations, which will culminate in next summer’s 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. The British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were federally united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.
The world’s tiniest flag will be on display in QUANTUM: The Exhibition, a traveling exhibit that highlights Canada’s leadership in quantum information science and technology. The exhibit is part Innovation150, a consortium compromised of five leading Canadian science-outreach organizations. The exhibition will open in Kitchener on Oct. 14, and then travel to science centers across the country throughout 2017.
This innovation is similar to a nanoscale 90th birthday message developed for Queen Elizabeth II by the University of Nottingham earlier this year. Scientists based in the Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre in the university’s School of Chemistry used a beam of Gallium ions and a Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope to write the birthday message on a dog hair. The breed of choice for the dog hair was the corgi, as The Queen has owned corgis since as early as 1933. Her Majesty’s corgis Monty, Willow, and Holly famously appeared with her in a humorous James Bond video at the 2012 Olympics in London.