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Beating the World's Smallest Drum

Scientists at Cornell have reached the ultimate limit in miniaturization by making a drum with a single-atom-thick drumhead. In their device, a single atomic sheet of graphite (a so-called graphene sheet) is stretched across a silicon trench. By shining a laser on the surface, the scientists can show that only one atomic layer of graphite is present. Since the drumhead vibrates very quickly, it must be played and listened to with special electronics — a mechanical drumstick would not be able to tap the drum quickly enough.  Although exceedingly thin, the drumhead is surprisingly stiff, approximately as stiff as a piece of diamond!<br /> The drum's vibrations are very sensitive to the surrounding environment. Devices such as these may one day find their way into very high sensitivity chemical and biological detectors.<br /> J. S. Bunch, A. van der Zande, S. S. Verbridge, I. W. Frank, D. M. Tanenbaum, J. M. Parpia, H. G. Craighead, P. L. McEuen,