World’s tiniest boat could sail down a human hair!

Last updated at 16:44
The world's smallest boatLeiden University

Benchy the tugboat has been made microscopic by researchers at Leiden University.

They are trying to understand how small particles called 'microswimmers' move in water and reckon this miniature design could be just the tool they need.

To help observe these natural particles scientists decided to make their own microswimmer using this popular boat design that is often used to test 3D printers.

The tiny boat is 30 micrometres long from front to back, which is about a third of the thickness of a human hair. It doesn't need a propeller and can float on its own thanks to its realistic and detailed micro-printing. Benchy's unique size means it could even sail down the inside of a human hair.

A human hair under a powerful microscopeGetty Images
A human hair under a powerful microscope

Physicists choose to make Benchy specifically because its complicated design tested their 3D printing equipment, and also because according to researcher Daniela Kraft "making a swimming micrometer-sized boat is fun."

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