The Smallest World Map in the Whole Wide... World?

Behold the smallest world map, created by the Photonics Research Group of Ghent University-IMEC. Its scale is one trillionth. That's a 40,000-kilometer equator reduced to 40 micrometer, half the width of a human hair.

The map was embedded in a silicon photonics test chip, using a 30-step etching process. The chip has optical circuits, submicrometer scale "tiny strips of silicon called waveguides or photonic wires." These developments will allow companies to integrate optics in packages that will be a million times smaller than today's glass-based photonics. The resulting chips will allow for inexpensive integration of photonics in every technology, from consumer gadgets to medical equipment. What does that really mean? Think more inexpensive high-speed network connections—like Light Peak, non-mechanical gyroscopes, and holograms. [Intec ]