Further adventures in nanotypography

In 2007, artist Robert Chaplin succeeded in making the World’s Smallest Book by carving a series of letterforms onto a microchip. Now he wants to release a printed version that readers can enjoy without the aid of an electron microscope

In 2007, artist Robert Chaplin succeeded in making the World’s Smallest Book by carving a series of letterforms onto a microchip. Now he wants to release a printed version that readers can enjoy without the aid of an electron microscope…

To make his original copy of Teeny Ted From Turnip Town, Chaplin was granted access to a focussed ion beam and scanning electron microscope at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia in Canada.

“In my time working with this equipment I designed and published an original work on a microchip, as an array of 30 tablets,” writes Chaplin. The 30 tablets are shown on the microchip in the image above – the chip itself is thinner than a human hair.

“The tablets contain the text of Teeny Ted From Turnip Town, complete with an ISBN. In 2012 I received a Guinness World Record confirming my creation of the smallest book yet made.”

His consummate skills with an ion beam aside, what’s particularly appealing about the work is the type that Chaplin came up with – where the size of the microchip format dictated how he carved the letterforms.

Aware of the restrictions, Chaplin traced the letters into the ‘single-crystalline silicon’ surface, often creating the outline of two letters with the same line, hence the squished-together and stacked appearance of the type. Each letter is carved with a line resolution of 42 nanometres (a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre).

The microchip version, which can’t be seen with the naked eye (or even with a regular microscope) is to date the only copy of the book, so Chaplin now wants to publish a standard sized printed version that, he says, won’t get lost on the bookshelf. He has set up a Kickstarter to help get that part of the project underway.

More details at rchaplin.blogspot.ca. Via boingboing.net.

CR for the iPad
Read in-depth features and analysis plus exclusive iPad-only content in the Creative Review iPad App. Longer, more in-depth features than we run on the blog, portfolios of great, full-screen images and hi-res video. If the blog is about news, comment and debate, the iPad is about inspiration, viewing and reading. As well as providing exclusive, iPad-only content, the app will also update with new content throughout each month. Try a free sample issue here

CR in Print
In our October print issue we have a major feature on the rise of Riso printing, celebrate the art of signwriting, examine the credentials of ‘Goodvertising’ and look back at the birth of D&AD. Rebecca Lynch reviews the Book of Books, a survey of 500 years of book design, Jeremy Leslie explains how the daily London 2012 magazine delivered all the news and stories of the Games and Michael Evamy explores website emblematic.com, offering “data-driven insights into logo design”. In addition to the issue this month, subscribers will receive a special 36-page supplement celebrating D&AD’s 50th with details of all those honoured with Lifetime Achievement awards plus pieces on this year’s Black Pencil and President’s Award-winners Derek Birdsall and Dan Wieden. And subscribers also receive Monograph which this month features Rian Hughes’ photographs of the unique lettering and illustration styles of British fairgrounds

Please note, CR now has a limited presence on the newsstand at WH Smith high street stores (although it can still be found in WH Smith travel branches at train stations and airports). If you cannot find a copy of CR in your town, your WH Smith store or a local independent newsagent can order it for you. You can search for your nearest stockist here. Alternatively, call us on 020 7970 4878 to buy a copy direct from us. Based outside the UK? Simply call +44(0)207 970 4878 to find your nearest stockist. Better yet, subscribe to CR for a year here and save yourself almost 30% on the printed magazine.

What's the story?

The Storytelling issue, Oct/Nov 2017, is out now.
We invited writers to respond to our cover image
this month: read their stories inside.
PLUS: Tom Gauld, Oliver Jeffers, Giphy & S-Town

Buy the issue

The Annual 2018

The Creative Review Annual is one of the most
respected and trusted awards for the creative
industry. We celebrate the best creative work from
the past year, those who create it and commission it.

Enter now


South East London - Competitive


London - £35,000 - £40,000


Birmingham - Salary £30-£35k


Leeds, West Yorkshire - £20,000 - 30,000