Closeup, please! IBM creates the world’s smallest movie starring atom particles

ibm a boy and his atom movie

As much as we would like to think science is fascinating and cool, everyone knows that behind closed doors, the lab researches can get daunting and, well, a little boring. So the folks at IBM decided to have a little fun with science and used one-of-a-kind equipments to manipulate atoms and create a one minute stop-motion movie. Read that again. They manipulated atom particles to shape characters and letters and pieced together a short stop-motion film. Where are these guys’ Oscars?

The movie, A Boy And His Atom, is an adorable short about a kid who finds a single particle and lets his imagination unfold. The IBM team was able to manually move the atoms around for the correct shapes and sequences with its proprietary “scanning tunneling microscope” which uses vibrations, temperature, and pressure levels to precisely control the atoms. Using needles, the team was able to physically attract the atoms on a copper surface to move them into position. Then, they used a microscope to capture each of the 242 frames, combining the photos into the world’s literally smallest movie.

“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, IBM Research. “At IBM, researchers don’t just read about science, we do it. 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.”

The video speaks best for itself, so watch the little movie below to restore your faith and interest in science.

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