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IBM create world’s smallest movie with atoms

IBM scientists in California have created the world’s smallest stop animation movie. Incredibly they used a scanning tunneling microscope to move individual atoms. The movie has been created more as a showcase of just what is possible rather than intended to hit the movie theaters.

The movie is called ‘A Boy and His Atom’ and has been made by precisely placing atoms to create 242 stop motion frames used to create the short piece. The storyline is simple – the character befriends a single atom and goes on a little journey which includes catching a ball, bouncing on a trampoline and dancing.

Andreas Heinrich, Principal Investigator at IBM research said “Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic-level is a precise science and entirely novel. 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.”

Gizmag add “Developed in 1981 by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer at IBM Zürich, the scanning tunneling microscope is based on the principle of quantum tunneling, which is an eye-wateringly confusing concept. Suffice it to say, it works on the fact that in quantum mechanics an electron is only “sort of” in any one place at any one time and may be somewhere else. This allows them to do things that should be impossible, like being on one side of an impenetrable barrier or gap and then show up on the other. It’s as if the electron just tunneled its way through, and hence the term “quantum tunneling.”

“This Nobel Prize winning tool was the first device that enabled scientists to visualize the world all the way down to single atoms,” said Christopher Lutz, Research Scientist, IBM Research. “It weighs two tons, operates at a temperature of negative 268 degrees Celsius and magnifies the atomic surface over 100 million times. The ability to control the temperature, pressure and vibrations at exact levels makes our IBM Research lab one of the few places in the world where atoms can be moved with such precision.”

Kitguru says: An incredible bit of work by the IBM team.

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