Now playing: The world's smallest movie (made with atoms)
Scientists at IBM have created the world's smallest movie - made with atoms - that can only be viewed when magnified by 100 million times. The 242-frame stop-motion production - named "A Boy and His Atom" - was created using a scanning tunneling microscope to precisely capture and position thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (see video (1:34) below):
Researchers used the remotely operated IBM-designed microscope to control a super-sharp needle along a copper surface to “feel” for and attract atoms, and then pull them to a specific location on the surface. Critical to this process was the "scratchy" sound that moving atoms make, which provided feedback on how many positions an atom had moved.
The following video (4:56) offers a behind-the-scenes look at how "A Boy and His Atom" was created:
IBM sees the ability to move single atoms as crucial to its research in the field of atomic-scale memory. The ability to create ever smaller memories promises to enable unprecedented levels of data storage in future computing applications.
For more on the movie, and IBM's atomic-scale research, see the company's related article page. For more on IBM's scanning tunneling microscope, see the video History of the scanning tunneling microscope (1:24).