IBM Uses Two-Ton Microscope To Create World’s Smallest Movie Out Of Atoms

A Boy And His Atom was a side-project during research into extreme storage.

IBM Uses Two-Ton Microscope To Create World’s Smallest Movie Out Of Atoms

It won’t win any Oscars, but IBM’s movie, A Boy And His Atom is something to behold. The computing giant used one of its larger bits of tech, a scanning-tunneling microscope that weighs in at around two tons, and which operates at temperatures of minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit, to enlarge atoms 100 million times and create 250 frames for its stop-motion masterpiece.

The technique, as Mashable’s Pete Pachal reports, is painstaking and time-consuming. The atoms were moved using a “super-sharp” needle that attracted and moved each atom, one at a time, while operating one nanometer away from a copper surface.

But why did IBM bother with this mini-movie? It’s all part of their research into efficient ways of storing large amounts of data in tiny places.

[Image of Astro Boy (once known as The Mighty Atom) by Flickr user fletcherjcm]

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My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.

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