What's the sharpest object ever created? © Getty Images

What’s the sharpest object ever created?

The sharpest manmade object is a needle that tapers down a point with the thickness of a single atom.

Asked by: Howard Hughes, Mitchellore-by-Sea

Advertisement

The sharpest object ever made is a tungsten needle that tapers down to the thickness of a single atom. It was manufactured by placing a narrow tungsten wire in an atmosphere of nitrogen and exposing it to a strong electric field in a device called a field ion microscope. The nitrogen reacted with the tungsten more rapidly in places where the curvature was higher, eventually producing a tip of atomic radius. These tips (called nanotips) are used in scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) to reveal the surface features of materials at atomic resolution.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.