Four (Million) Eyes

PHOTO BY FRANK KORTE/GÜNTER KAMLAGE/EPA/LANDOV

Put aside for the moment the question of why you would put spectacles on a housefly and consider how you would do it. First, of course, you'd have to make the specs. Micreon GmbH, of Hannover, Germany, used a pulsed titanium-sapphire laser to fashion the tiny eyewear, in a sleek style so fashionable at the moment. Günter Kamlage, a mechanical engineer and cofounder of Micreon, says the laser pulses, just femtoseconds long, cut the glasses out of a thin, tiny sheet of tungsten. They measure only 2 millimeters from temple to temple; note Micreon's logo etched on the nose bridge. The difficult part was placing them on the insect, which was quite dead. Basically, they used really small tweezers and a microscope, Kamlage says, and it took almost two weeks, because the glasses kept sliding off the fly's face. The publicity stunt was conceived a year ago by Kamlage's wife, Beatrix, to demonstrate the precision possible with femtosecond lasers.

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