Lots of people would love to get a valentine of gold. PhD student Alina Bruma, under the supervision of Dr. Ziyou Li at the U.K.'s University of Birmingham has made the world's smallest, at just five-by-three-and-a-half nanometers.
Using an electron microscope, Bruma arranged gold and palladium atoms on a carbon film. The atoms tended to be sort of amorphous and random at room temperature, but when heated to 200 to 300 degrees Celcius (392 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit), they started to form regular patterns.
Controlling the temperature in a particular pattern produces different shapes, such as a heart.
The team at Birmingham has done this before, but unlike last year's effort, this valentine was more stable due to better control of the heating process.
There's more to this then giving atomic valentines, of course; one could use this technique to arrange atoms to react with chemicals in a very specific way, or build entire structures atom-by-atom.
In the meantime it's a great Valentine's Day gift for your special physicist.
Image: University of Birmingham, Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory