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Graphics Printer Hardware Science

Color Printing Reaches Its Ultimate Resolution 140

ananyo writes "The highest possible resolution images — about 100,000 dots per inch — have been achieved, and in full-colour, with a printing method that uses tiny pillars a few tens of nanometres tall. The method could be used to print tiny watermarks or secret messages for security purposes, and to make high-density data-storage discs. Each pixel in these ultra-resolution images is made up of four nanoscale posts capped with silver and gold nanodisks. By varying the diameters of the structures (which are tens of nanometres) and the spaces between them, it's possible to control what colour of light they reflect. As a proof of principle, researchers printed a 50×50-micrometre version of the 'Lena' test image, a richly coloured portrait of a woman that is commonly used as a printing standard (abstract). Even under the best microscope, optical images have an ultimate resolution limit, and this method hits it."
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Color Printing Reaches Its Ultimate Resolution

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  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @05:50PM (#40967035) Journal

    ...cost 10 times the printer itself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So, same as regular ink?

    • it will come down with time, new technology is always expensive
    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      And the jets will be irretrievably plugged 3 uses into ownership.
      Thank God Murphy wasn't really a Legislator.

  • by Kergan ( 780543 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @05:52PM (#40967053)

    "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

    Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899.

    • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @06:10PM (#40967185) Journal

      I can think of one way their claim can be entirely true, and not just another shortsighted statement like Duell's:
      If they make it any smaller, they won't be dealing with visible light anymore.

      • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:24PM (#40968999) Journal
        And you are correct. If they printed it any smaller, the colors would start blurring together because of the wavelength.

        Here's a picture if you want to see it []. Although it is small, fidelity to the original image is clearly low. The technique could use some improving. Still cool.
        • Even though there is a picture that shows low fidelity, we don't really know if the image was scanned poorly, saved poorly, converted by a reporter poorly, or converted yet again for upload to the web server poorly. I'm willing to give the system the benefit of a doubt, though it's also possible that they haven't come up with enough patterns of gold and silver posts to smoothly represent millions of colors.
          • To be honest, the main reason I said that, was because I wanted to see if I could post a link to the original article and still be modded up. Apparently you can.
        • Considering that this whole photo is printed at a size of about a 1/4 of the size of a printed period at 12 pt, we could probably forgive that. It's probably an artifact of magnification - and that this is so close to the limit that the colors start to blur together because it's too close to the size of the wavelength of the colors that are printed.

    • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

      by uradu ( 10768 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @06:25PM (#40967265) []

      Famous statement attributed in various forms to various people throughout history. Duell's actual statement (provided that was attributed correctly) was the exact opposite of this.

    • by elashish14 ( 1302231 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (4clacforp)> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @06:26PM (#40967271)

      What a simpleton! He was clearly proven wrong when we invented the Rectangle with Rounded Corners.

    • They should put that fellow's face on the thousand-dollar bill when U.S. currency finally collapses.
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      There is a limit of who we can see with visible light, that is light that our eyes will respond to as color. Basically once you get below the oder of the wavelength, one cannot discern the details. For visibile light this limit is on the order of a micrometer. Therefore in theory we might be able to see something less than a micrometer, but there are other issues involved. The cited figure is order of magnitude less.

      We see this in the length of antennas. To receive a signal, the antenna has to be at

      • There is a limit of who we can see with visible light

        Are you thinking about the invisible man.

      • We see this in the length of antennas. To receive a signal, the antenna has to be at least a quarter wavelength. If you look at old cars that are made to receive conventional AM signals, they are longer.

        Untrue. "conventional AM signals", at least in the US, are from 540kHz to 1610kHz. Wavelengths corresponding to those frequencies are 555.5m to 186m, respectively. Taking the shorter of the two, a quarter wavelength of 186m is 46.5m. I've never seen an antenna on a car that's 10x the length of the car! Any a

      • That being said, the image might be no better than 50x50 pixels, even if there's many times more coated posts in the image than this. Might explain why it's so blurry.

    • by k2r ( 255754 )

      I just read

      "Everything that can be inverted has been inverted"

      (need more coffee)

    • When we reach physical limits, we can say this is the best we are going to make it. But it isn't saying we cant find a cheaper, faster, lighter, smaller, more efficient invention. We just can't do better, but we can match it.

      Also a lot of inventions have reached good enough and don't need major fixes.

      Lets take leather. It is still a popular product.
      It is very tough, it is flexible, it is light, and durable, insulates heat well. We had leather for thousands of years, we have improved on the process of mak

  • You can read higher resolutions with atomic scopes etc, and you can create images other than with lenses, so I don't think we've hit the limit yet, unless there's something in TFA about sticking dots on quarks or something...

  • by PacRim Jim ( 812876 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @05:56PM (#40967077) Homepage
    Feminine beauty is not well served by zoomable acres of gaping pores. Therein lies horror, and quite possibly a counter-Darwinian response insalubrious to human survival.
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

      I would agree with you if it were not for the apparent popularity of Japanese Tentacle Porn and a sundry list of Goatse available on the Internet.

      We all joke about a wading through a throng of midgets with thousand island dressing, but perhaps there is more truth to that than we would like to admit.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @05:57PM (#40967089) Journal

    > 'Lena' test image []

    Pr0n, driving tech development since cavemen fingerpainted a wall.

    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @06:45PM (#40967381) Homepage
      I've never understood the use of Lena as a test image. It doesn't look very "richly coloured" (as per the summary) to me.
      • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @07:28PM (#40967729)
        See the discussion on whether or not sexual harassment is ingrained in hacker culture...
        • by Splab ( 574204 )


          They use it because it has many edges, colors and textures, which makes it interesting from a pure CS point of view - that's also why they only use the face...

          • They use it because it has many... colors

            Err, yeah, except for the one that the human eye is most sensitive to, green. The image has a reddish tint like a faded magazine print (unsurprisingly) so that single shade of blue is also very muted. I can't say I see a lot of texture, either. Five seconds of Googling turns up [] (yes, it's perfectly safe for work) which looks like a far more useful image.

            • by Splab ( 574204 )

              Erm... What?

              CS as in computer science, last I checked the computers ability to process information was not depending on the operators ability to see color.

              • last I checked the computers ability to process information was not depending on the operators ability to see color.

                There's an entire class of shades missing from the image (no "greens" in the sense that no pixels have their maximum value in the green channel), and another (blue) is a single almost-grey shade. That makes it, to me, a poor general-case test image. It might be fine if you're writing facial recognition software, but it would be next to useless if you were trying to implement a clone of Photoshop's selective colour filter.

        • by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:40AM (#40969859) Homepage Journal

          See the discussion on whether or not sexual harassment is ingrained in hacker culture...

          Really? How is this indicative of sexual harassment? "Ohmygod! It's part of a picture taken from Playboy!" Never mind that the test image is just a picture of her face. Or the fact that women who pose for playboy and similar magazines do so by choice and get paid to do so.

          Comments like yours are why so many people immediately backlash whenever sexual harassment is discussed. The article you are referring to talks about women being groped at the crotch in the middle of a conference. That's a legitimate concern. It's freaking assault. However, when I see the words "sexual harassment", I do have to go and read the details before I can determine whether it's something legitimate or someone who decided that, for example, using Lenna as a test picture is indicative of a sexism problem in hacker culture. I bet lots of the comments in the discussion you are referring to are from people who didn't read the article, and assume it's really about the bullshit type of sexual harassment.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Lena herself actually enjoyed this use of her image for print testing. Doesn't sexual harassment require a victim?

            • by khallow ( 566160 )
              Yes. The narrative gets a bit strained when the victim is willing and eager, but one wisely ignores that sort of thing.
        • by dasunt ( 249686 )

          See the discussion on whether or not sexual harassment is ingrained in hacker culture...

          Well, heteronormativity seems to be. ;)

          (No, I don't know the gender orientation or preferences of the individuals who selected this image. I'm just pointing out the assumption being made.)

    • I've been seeing this image in image processing texts for decades, and never had a clue where it came from. I am not disappointed.

  • It should be possible to print colour holograms if they get the resolution high enough.
    • by Ignacio ( 1465 )

      They would also need to make a layer of it thick enough to do so. Holograms work because they're in a 3D medium (even though only paper-thin), whereas this method is strictly 2D at this point.

      • Wow, it says something about slashdot physics knowledge that you get a score 2 and I only get a score 1.
      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        That's not how holograms work. Holograms are made with ordinary photographic film just like you used to use in an ordinary camera. What makes holograms work is that a diffraction pattern is stored on the film rather than the image itself; to look at a hologram without a laser is to look at squiggles.

        To make a hologram, you put the subject in a dark room, take a laser and split its beam, with the film between the beams and the subject. After you develop the film, shine a lensed laser at it and the true 3D im

  • by csumpi ( 2258986 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:06PM (#40968521) in an inkjet printer that doesn't clog up from dried up ink, so it it has a lifetime of over a year.

    Until then, I'll stick with lasers. Even if it's just b/w.
    • in an inkjet printer that doesn't clog up from dried up ink, so it it has a lifetime of over a year.

      Sadly, there's no financial reason to offer such a printer.

    • they should make an awesome 10,000 dpi 128 bit color laser printer that prints 1000 pages per minute.... that sounds like a dot matrix!!!
      now that would be a breakthrough
    • HP880c - bought in 1999, was left in its box with partially used cartridges in place for 18 months at one point; often unused for weeks or months; always works fine when needed. Using cheap non-HP cartridges as well (GBP2 for black cartridge). Print quality still very good.

      • That was before the nozzles shrunk again. Newer printers have smaller nozzles than ever. Every printer is a "photo" printer.

    • by Amouth ( 879122 )

      Get out of the consumer market, when you get to large format commercial printers, they have their own head cleaning/ink cycling routine, and you can have them be completely autonomous about it.

  • How is the archival quality? Does it break down? Will this someday replace the Giclée [] print as the method for find art printing?
  • With that resolution it would be so realistic that my enemy, the Coyote, will think the picture of a train tunnel I print with it is real and smash into it at full speed.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What about paper grain?

  • ...ought to be enough for anybody
    • Exactly what I was going to post. "Color printing reaches the highest resolution yet" would have been better.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.