A lot of us love the beach, and with it goes creating sand castles. However, TAE discovered two artists who literally gave new meaning to what sand castles are supposed to be. Two artists, Vik Muniz and Marcelo Coelho collaborated on a project that involved etching sand castles on a single grain of sand. Yes, you read right – these two engraved castles on grains of sand, each less than half a millimeter in length!

To create these microscopic etchings, the partners created a highly technical process involving both old and new technologies. Muniz first creates sketches using a camera lucida (a superimposition device from the 1800s that project images onto a piece of paper) so he can trace the tiny castles.

When he’s done, he’d send the drawings to Coelho, who also happens to be an MIT researcher. He played around with a number of different microscopic drawing processes. After four years of trial-and-error, he ultimately settled on Focused Ion Beam (FIB), which was initially used to fix integrated circuits on microchips.

From afar, these pieces of sand look pretty normal:

vik_muniz_marcelo_coelho_sandcastles_01

But upon closer inspection:

vik_muniz_marcelo_coelho_sandcastles_02

vik_muniz_marcelo_coelho_sandcastles_03

vik_muniz_marcelo_coelho_sandcastles_04

vik_muniz_marcelo_coelho_sandcastles_05

More detailed versions can be seen here:

vik_muniz_marcelo_coelho_sandcastles_06

vik_muniz_marcelo_coelho_sandcastles_07

Aren’t these just spectacular? Thanks so much for reading!