Brookhaven National Lab scientists have created the world's tiniest pipet, capable of accurately delivering a zeptoliter of fluid--a billionth of a trillionth of a liter.
Ever try to spice up your scrambled eggs and add just a little too much Tabasco sauce? If only you had some way to mete out smaller volumes of the hot stuff. Well, scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory may be able to help. Especially if you only want to add about 10,000 atoms of hot sauce to your omelet. These scientists have produced an instrument they believe is the world’s smallest pipette. Pipettes are standard equipment in many laboratories. They suck up and spit out incredibly accurate amounts of liquid for use in experiments. Pipettes usually deliver a small amount, for example, a tenth of a milliliter. But the Brookhaven researchers have created what might be called a pipette-ette: it dispenses a zeptoliter of fluid. No, not the fourth Marx brother. A zeptoliter is a billionth of a trillionth of a liter. Between about 10,000 and a million atoms of material. The teeny dispenser could help scientists study how tiny amounts of fluids freeze, like when water droplets in clouds turn to ice, which is important for climate models. Or it could help deliver the perfect amount of Tabasco sauce to the world’s smallest bloody mary.