19 February 2010

Record grooves under an electron microscope

Found at this link: here

Chris Supranowitz is a researcher at The Insitute of Optics at the University of Rochester. Along with a number of other spectacular studies (such as quantum optics, trapping of atoms, dark states and entanglement), Chris has decided to look at the relatively boring grooves of a vinyl record using the institute’s electron microscope. Well, not boring for me.

From what I read, it’s not just a simple matter of sticking a record under a fancy microscope, as there is a lot of preparation (such as gold-sputtering the surface) and post-processing to be done. Having said that, the results are very cool:

Here’s a single groove even closer still, magnified 1000 times:

Chris also did the pits in a CD – here’s what they look like, just for contrast:

Chris decided to take the whole electron microscope image one step further, and created a blue/red 3-dimensional image of the record groove! So, if you have a pair of 3D glasses (sorry, the ones you got from watching Avatar won’t work – you need red on the left, blue on the right), throw them on and take a look at this amazing picture:


Maybe these vinyl grooves are only beautiful to an audio geek like me, but I think that these images are truly spectacular. Thanks to noiseforairports for the tip.

Comments »
  • Obbop says:

    With enough practice, just as a maestro can view sheet music and hear a symphony play the music in his mind, an engineer can scan the vinyl grooves and hear the song inside.

    Admittedly, it IS more difficult doing so viewing a quadraphonic vinyl record.

  • That is so neat. You can actually SEE the waveforms cut into the record. The term “cut a record” has so much more meaning at this level of detail.

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