Looking like architectural columns, these structures are more than two million times shorter than their life-sized counterparts. Put another way, they’re only knee-high to a bacterium - the only way we can see them is with a powerful electron microscope.

We’re not making buildings with these structures, but microscopic lasers, small enough to fit on a computer chip and enable the chip to communicate with others with light, rather than electricity. Using light, we hope that chip-to-chip communication will be faster and more energy efficient, leading to faster computers and faster internet. These lasers are just one of many microscopic light-using components needed to make this work - we’re also working on making light detectors and switches.

Subscribe now