IBM makes world's smallest movie by filming atoms
Updated: 2013-05-02 14:31
Scientists from IBM on Wednesday unveiled the world's smallest movie, made with one of the tiniest elements in the universe: atoms.
Named "A Boy and His Atom," the movie used thousands of precisely placed atoms to create nearly 250 frames of stop-motion action. It depicts a character named Atom who befriends a single atom and goes on a playful journey that includes dancing, playing catch and bouncing on a trampoline.
"Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic-level is a precise science and entirely novel," said Andreas Heinrich, principle investigator for the research in a statement.
"This movie is a fun way to share the atomic-scale world while opening up a dialogue with students and others on the new frontiers of math and science," Heinrich said.
IBM used a remotely operated scanning tunneling microscope to make the movie earlier this year. The microscope operates at a temperature of negative 268 degrees Celsius and magnifies the atomic surface over 100 million times.
Researchers used the microscope to control a super-sharp needle along a copper surface to "feel" atoms. Only 1 nanometer away from the surface, which is a billionth of a meter in distance, the needle can physically attract atoms and molecules on the surface and thus pull them to a precisely specified location on the surface.
In the end, the scientists rendered still images of the individually arranged atoms, resulting in 242 single frames.
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