Reading an old-fashioned mercury thermometer sometimes requires some squinting. But that's nothing compared with what's needed to read the newest temperature-measuring device.
Yihua Gao and Yoshio Bando of the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, need a powerful electron microscope to read the new thermometer they've created. It works much like the mercury ones, but it would take 100 of the new devices to span the width of a human hair. At this size, the new thermometer can measure temperatures in microscopic environments, says Bando.