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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 14 August, 2020
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Irish scientists etch the tiniest shamrock you will ever see*

*with the aid of a Helium Ion Microscope, that is.

The shamrock was etched on one of the harp strings on the pin, each one is 150 micrometres wide.
The shamrock was etched on one of the harp strings on the pin, each one is 150 micrometres wide.
Image: AMBER

THERE’S SMALL, THERE’S tiny, and then there’s incomprehensibly tiny.

AMBER, Ireland’s national materials science centre and part of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), went for the latter by etching a 200 nanometre shamrock onto a silver lapel pin.

The shamrock is so small that 500 could fit side by side on a single human hair – for reference a human hair is 100 micrometres wide. The stem is only 5 nanometers wide, meaning it’s 200,000 times smaller than a grain of salt.

The shamrock was etched using AMBER’s Helium Ion Microscope in Trinity College Dublin. It is the only one in Ireland and one of only a few in Europe.

The silver lapel pin will be given to the recipient of the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal, Dr. Garret A. FitzGerald at The Wild Geese Network of Irish Scientists in Washington DC today.

The award is intended to recognise the achievements of a distinguished Irish scientist or engineer, living and working in the US, in particular their contribution back to Ireland.

Dr. FitzGerald’s research focused in the area of biomedical cardiovascular pharmacology – in particular the effects of pain medicines on cardiac systems.

He played a major part in the discoveries relating to the use of low-dose aspirin in preventing cardiac disease and has been awarded the 2013 Grand Prix Scientifique, considered the world’s most prestigious honour for cardiovascular research.

He is currently the McNeil Professor in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the Perelman School of Medicine, part of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.


(Video: AMBER/YouTube)

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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