Scientists reveal world’s smallest movie: "A Boy And His Atom"
2013-05-02 0:00

From: ABC News

Scientists have unveiled what is believed to be the world’s smallest movie, made with atoms.

Named A Boy And His Atom, the movie used thousands of precisely placed atoms to create nearly 250 frames of stop-motion action.

The movie depicts a character named Atom who befriends a single atom and goes on a journey that includes dancing, playing catch and bouncing on a trampoline.

Set to a playful musical track, the movie represents a unique way to convey science outside the research community.

"Moving atoms is one thing; you can do that with the wave of your hand," said Andreas Heinrich, principal investigator from IBM Research.

"Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic level is a precise science and entirely novel."

In order to make the movie, the atoms were moved with a scanning tunnelling microscope.

The microscope weighs two tonnes, operates at minus 268 degrees Celsius and magnifies the atomic surface more than 100 million times.

Remotely operated on a standard computer, researchers used the microscope to control a super-sharp needle along a copper surface to "feel" atoms.

Only one nanometre from the surface, which is a billionth of a metre in distance, the needle can attract atoms and molecules on the surface and pull them to a specified location.

The moving atom makes a unique sound that is critical feedback in determining how many positions it has moved.

As the movie was being created, the scientists rendered still images of the individually arranged atoms, resulting in 242 single frames.

As computer circuits shrink toward atomic dimensions, researchers are running into physical limitations using traditional techniques.

"As data creation and consumption continue to get bigger, data storage needs to get smaller, all the way down to the atomic level," Mr Heinrich said.

"We’re applying the same techniques used to come up with new computing architectures and alternative ways to store data to making this movie."

Article from:

How did IBM researchers move all those atoms to make the world’s smallest movie? This short behind-the-scenes documentary takes you inside the lab. Meet the scientists, see how they made a movie with atoms, and find out more about their research in the field of atomic memory and data storage.

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