Researchers at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) in Singapore have created a printer capable of spitting out images with 100,000 dots-per-inch resolution (dpi) — a big improvement over the 10,000 dpi in current inkjet printers.
To do this, the researchers had to go small. Within each colored pixel are four nanoscale nodes, each topped with silver and gold nanodisks. To create color, the researchers simply altered the size of and spacing between each node, an effect called “structural color.”
The result, as the image above shows, is a somewhat grainy full-color image that measures just 50 micrometers across.
More interesting, because the nodes can’t get any closer to each other without blurring the overall image, the researchers say they’ve obtained the highest possible resolution for images.
But there’s a problem: As Northwestern University professor Teri Odom told Nature, even those with perfect vision can’t see images smaller than 20-30 micrometers. So the new technology won’t have too many consumer uses.
But the A*Star team has a better application. In addition to cryptography, the technology can be used to create nanoscale watermarks and read-only high-capacity DVDs. That may not be very sexy, but if the researchers play their cards right, it could end up being very lucrative.