A Beautiful Failure

February 4, 2009

There are times in lab, when even a failure brings something positive with it: a brilliant insight, a new direction perhaps, or simply a beautiful sight. Here is a picture I took this morning in a microscope, of a device I had fabricated after much pain. What you see in the image – the stripes – are lithographically fabricated gold wires, about 20 micron wide, on a silica substrate. To put it a bit obtusely, these wires connect the business end of the device to the outside world. Much to my dismay, one of the wires seemed to be busted (i.e., the connection between the device I made and the outside world was severed)


Ordinarily, this would cause me much angst and frustration. Luckily though, I have alternative wires in the arrangement that could still do the job for me. But a closer look at the failure was what ultimately brought a smile. Isn’t this just beautiful ?


I played quite a bit with the filters on the microscope till I got, what I thought, was a fair enough compensation for a failure !! The gold incense stick flaring out into a myriad subtle hues. Here’s the same image with a different focus of the microscope: