The Nano Bible. (Israel Museum) (Israel Museum)
The Nano Bible

Inside the Shrine of the Book. (Flash90)

Inside the Shrine of the Book. (Flash90)

The smallest Bible in the world, the Nano Bible is the size of a sugar grain.

A new exhibition at the Israel Museum‘s Shrine of the Book opened an exhibit on the smallest existing Bible in the world.

“And Then There Was Nano: The Smallest Bible in the World”, revealed to the public for the first time the world’s smallest copy of the Hebrew Bible.

Developed by the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion in Haifa, “And Then There Was Nano” presents the incredible story of the world’s smallest Hebrew Bible etched onto a microchip no larger than a grain of sugar. The exhibition includes narrative presentations explaining the story behind the creation of the Nano Bible and details on the mediums through which the Hebrew Bible has been interpreted over time.

The Nano Bible serves as a contemporary complement to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest Biblical manuscripts in the world, providing audiences with a unique opportunity to examine the technological evolution of the Hebrew Bible from antiquity to the postmodern era. The exhibit is part of the year-long program celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Israel Museum.

What is the Nano Bible?

The Nano Bible is a gold-plated silicon chip the size of a pinhead on which the entire Hebrew Bible is engraved. The text, consisting of over 1.2 million letters, is carved on a chip 0.04 square millimeters, and 0.00002 millimeters (20 nanometers) deep by means of a focused ion beam. The beam dislodges gold atoms from the plating and creates letters, similar to the way the earliest inscriptions were carved in stone. The writing process takes about 90 minutes. The letters belong to a font unique to this technology and appear darker against their gold background. In order to read the text, it is necessary to use a microscope capable of 10,000 times magnification or higher.

Employing a modern incarnation of an ancient writing technique, this technological marvel demonstrates the wonders of present-day miniaturization and provides the spectator with a tangible measure of the achievable dimensions.

The Nano Bible was conceived of and created by Prof. Uri Sivan and Dr. Ohad Zohar. It was made by engineers in the Sara and Moshe Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center and the Wolfson Microelectronics Research and Teaching Center. The first of two copies was presented by the former president of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, to Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Israel in 2009. The chip on display in the Israel Museum was produced especially for the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center of the Shrine of the Book.