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The World's Smallest Movie

By Norman Chan

A stop-motion film using atoms.

IBM research has produced a 242 frame stop-motion film featuring animated atoms. That's right, the team arranged atoms and carbon monoxide molecules into position using a needle with an electric current, and shot images using a two-ton tunneling microscope that magnifies atoms by 100 million times. Frames took 10 days of 18 hour shifts to capture, each. The exercise was conducted to spread awareness of science, and the lessons learned from it will be used to explore the use of small groups of atoms for computation and data storage. Full video here.