Watch: IBM Created the World's Tiniest Movie Using Individual Atoms

Watch: IBM Created the World's Tiniest Movie Using Individual Atoms

May 01, 2013

Scientists at IBM have created the world's smallest stop-motion movie. It's even a current Guinness World Records titleholder. The concept sounds deceptively simple, but the how-to video we've posted — along with the actual film A Boy and His Atom — reveals the fascinating and complicated process.

The movie was created to support IBM's research with single atoms, computation, and data storage. The IBM folks invented a tool that allows them to move atoms across surfaces and build structures, one atom at a time. Moving the molecules (all 5,000 of them) allows them to draw a picture, and then a movie, frame by frame. A Boy and His Atom contains 250 frames. The images we see in the microscope are magnified 100 million times. For further size stats that will blow your mind, you should know that each frame measures a tiny 45 x 25 nanometers. As io9 shares, it would take about 1,000 frames of the film side by side to reach across a single human hair.

The IBM team finished the film in two weeks (18-hour days) — and we imagine their eyeballs must have taken a beating, magnifying glass or not. Watch it in full, and bask in the awesome that is science.

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