Dubbed the micronium, the tiny musical instrument has strings just a millionth of an inch thick and now holds the coveted title of the tiniest instrument able to produce audible noise.
The instrument’s strings range in size from half to one millimetre and each one carries several tiny weights – each about a dozen micrograms in mass. It is these weights which help to create the sound produced by the micronium thanks to tiny interlocking combs that shift around in relation to each other. This causes the mass to vibrate and move a few micrometers in either direction and create a specific tone.
Designer Johan Engelen admits the hardest part of the project was properly tuning the micronium to produce the desired tones.
“The tuning process turned out to be the greatest challenge. We can learn a lot from this project for the construction of other moving structures,” he said “Above all, this is a great project for introducing students to micromechanics and clean room techniques.”
And the students even wrote a specific composition so that the micronium can be seen in action. Called ‘Impromptu No. 1 for Micronium’, the work debuted last weekend at the Atak music venue in Enschede.