The smallest boat in the world will help scientists study the movement of bacteria

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The Benchy boat is about 30 microns in size, which is only 2/3 the thickness of a human hair, or six times the size of a bacterial cell. The creators of the ship were employees of the Leiden University (Netherlands), and the shipyard – a 3D micro-printer.

With its microscopic dimensions, all the details of the ship look flawless, including the superstructures and the captain’s bridge. The purpose of creating an unusual vessel is to understand how microorganisms, for example, bacteria, move in a liquid medium.

Benchy used a commercial 3D microprinter based on 2PP technology, also known as two-photon polymerization. With its help, 3D objects are formed inside drops of a substance that solidifies when irradiated with a high-precision laser.

According to the members of the Leiden team, they printed the microship simply because they were in a good mood, but in addition to it, they created several more specific objects. For example, using the same printer, they created a micro spiral with a diameter of less than microns. With its help, scientists were able to measure the speed and trajectory of several types of particles.

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