CU Boulder researchers have used ultra-fast extreme ultraviolet lasers to measure the properties of materials more than 100 times thinner than a human red blood cell. The team, led by scientists at JILA, reported its new feat of wafer-thinness this week in the journal Physical Review Materials. The group’s target, a film just 5 nanometers thick, is the thinnest material that researchers have ever been able to fully probe, said study coauthor Joshua Knobloch. “This is a record-setting study to see how small we could go and how accurate we could be,” said Knobloch, a graduate student at JILA, a partnership between CU Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He added that when things get small, the normal rules of engineering don’t always apply. The group discovered, for example, that some materials seem to get a lot softer the thinner they become.