New York on a dime

A scale model of New York Cityʼs blocks on a dime-sized coin. Using the naked eye, the viewer can only see the shape of Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs. However, by using a microscope at 20X, viewers can discern individual streets and blocks. Numerous images are hidden throughout the map with their associated locations, such as a symbol of the Columbia University crown located on Columbiaʼs main campus.

four different manufacturing methods were tested to see which produced the most realistic and aesthetically pleasing coin products. First was SU-8 2050 resist on silicon wafer, which is a commonly used substrate in the lab. Here, the photoresist remains on the silicon wafer to form map features.

Next we used SU-8 2050 resist on aluminum, since aluminum matches the silver color of real dimes (first image above). Again, the resist remains on the coin to form the features. To enhance appearance, we then tried etching the aluminum to create the features.

Finally, to make the coins feel heavier and thus more realistic, we plated copper with aluminum and etched away the aluminum to create the features.

This project was made with tremendous support from Amy Betz, Jie Xu and Erik Huber of the LMTP research laboratory.

Project report microscale artwork [pdf]

2010. Photoresist on silicon wafer, photoresist on aluminum, etched aluminum, etched aluminum-plated copper