Video: World’s smallest movie, made with atoms

IBM researchers made this short film by moving atoms.

IBM researchers working on how to store data atom by atom created this short film. They call it A Boy and his Atom, and it holds the Guinness World Records™ record for the world’s smallest stop-motion film. Sure, it looks kind of old-fashioned and Pong-like, but it looks a lot cooler when you think about it – that it was made by moving individual atoms, the smallest particles of any element in the universe.

The IBM researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (two atoms stacked on top of each other), all in pursuit of making a movie so small it can be seen only when you magnify it 100 million times.

Here’s an IBM scientist talking about how they made the movie. This short behind-the-scenes documentary takes you inside the lab.

Image credit: IBM

Image credit: IBM

By the way, in 1990, IBM became the first to use a scanning tunneling microscope to manipulate atoms. And what did they choose to share with the world in their announcement of the first manipulation of atoms? Well, the initials IBM, naturally!

Bottom line: IBM researchers created a short film made by manipulating individual atoms, called A Boy and his Atom.

Eleanor Imster

MORE ARTICLES