Soccer field on a photomask

Did You Know…

…that ZEISS Made the World’s Smallest Soccer Field?


Fairy-tale dwarves can now play soccer too: employees at ZEISS have “inscribed” an 800 x 600 nanometer soccer field on a photomask.

Derived from the Greek word “nanos,” meaning dwarf, nano is a prefix that describes one billionth of a measuring unit. A nanometer is thus one billionth of a meter. Inconceivable! This miniature playing field would fit about 15 quadrillion times into a full-sized soccer field.

Photomasks are projection templates made of fused quartz that are used in semiconductor manufacturing. Using an electron beam device, employees from ZEISS created the world’s smallest soccer field on a photomask in time for the European Championship. The MeRiT® system, used to make the soccer field, is actually a mask repair instrument and not actually intended for the promotion of miniature sporting events! MeRiT® systems are normally used for repairing defects on photomasks by applying missing material or etching away excess material with pinpoint accuracy.

Unfortunately, public viewing of the mini-match will not be possible, since the nano-dwarves – relative to the size of the playing field – would barely be 15 nanometers tall, and the soccer ball would be about 20 atoms in diameter. So this game would only be visible if seen through an electron microscope. But, as luck would have it, it turns out that ZEISS happens to manufacture such high-resolution microscopes!

16 June 2008