22 December 2022

World’s smallest portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II auctioned for charity

The world's smallest portrait of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, created by scientists at Oxford Instruments Asylum Research, has been sold at a charity auction.

The smallest portrait ever created of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been sold at a charity auction at the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, Taiwan. The portrait, just 20 microns square (that is, 20 millionths of a metre, or significantly less than the width of a human hair), was made by scientists at Oxford Instruments Asylum Research on the occasion of Her Late Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.

The portrait was printed using Oxford Instruments’ Cypher ES atomic force microscope and a sophisticated scientific technique known as anodic oxidation lithography, which is used to form patterns at the nanoscale on materials such as graphene and silicon, for use in next generation electronic devices.

Oxford Instruments’ high-tech scientific instruments are more usually used by the world’s leading companies and academic institutions in line with its purpose: to enable a greener, healthier, more connected advanced society. The company was founded in 1959 as the first academic spin out from Oxford University, and since then has grown to become one of the UK’s leading technology firms, with its equipment frequently cited in Nobel prize-winning scientific research. The firm has won 14 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in Innovation and International Trade since 1967, and its ability to image, analyse and manipulate materials at the atomic and molecular level continues to advance scientific knowledge globally every day.

Just a few examples of how Oxford Instruments products are used include:

  • accelerating medical progress by helping life scientists to understand fundamental disease mechanisms;
  • supporting the development of higher performing, more environmentally friendly batteries and sources of renewable energy
  • helping material scientists to create the building blocks of modern society by exploring the properties of advanced materials;
  • speeding up the adoption of quantum computing through the use of cryogenics and magnet technology;
  •  and helping create a more connected world through technology which is enabling the next generation of communication devices.

Jonathan Bryon, President of East and South East Asia, Oxford Instruments, said:

“We are delighted that the proceeds of the sale of this portrait, originally created to celebrate her Late Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, will now be used to support such important causes in Taiwan. Our technology is always a force for good in the world – but this is a slight departure from our usual science-based approach to furthering global progress!”

John Eastwood, the managing partner of Eiger, a law firm that works extensively in high-technology matters from its offices in Taipei and Shanghai, and the successful bidder, said:

“This portrait is a remarkable achievement by Oxford Instruments and a brilliant example of their ability to work at the nanoscale. Created in celebration of her late Majesty's Platinum Jubilee, it now stands as a lovely tribute to her. We’re delighted to have secured it for Eiger’s collection while also raising money for such good causes.”

Proceeds from the sale of the portrait, which raised NT$40,000 (c. £1,053), are being donated to Taiwan Salvation Army's Puli Youth Services Centre, SOS Children’s Village, and the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei’s four-year scholarship programme.