At the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente based in The Netherlands, a team of designers have managed to create The micronium, an ultra-tiny instrument with six strings that can produce notes audible to the human ear.
The scale of construction and movement is small enough to slap on the “nano” label. Each string is a micrometer thick and up to one millimeter long, and is attached to a weight that’s around a dozen micrograms heavy. These weights are connected to interlocking combs that generate motion, causing vibrations that create the sound.
To be clear, The micronium isn’t ready for a market release yet. The instrument is too soft to make auditory impact without any sort of amplification. And any human-operated instrument is only as good as its control surfaces, which need to be properly sized for ergonomics’ sake. But The micronium does show that it’s possible to generate audio on such a small scale—a definite boon for future miniaturization projects perhaps?
A full demo is available through this video.