IBM has made it into the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s smallest stop-motion movie, A Boy And His Atom. (video below)
The minute and half long movie features a stick-figure composed entirely of atoms, which were enlarged 100 million times.
IBM’s Noble Prize-winning scanning tunneling microscope (STM) was used to “feel” the atoms because they are smaller than light waves, rendering them invisible. The atoms were arranged with electrically charged needle that provided audio feedback to their position. It took IBM researchers nearly 100 hours to create 242 frames for 60 seconds of animation.
The researchers also created an animated Star Trek logo, the USS Enterprise and the Vulcan salute given with the greeting: “live long and prosper.” (more photos available on the IBM flickr page)
Andreas Heinrich, Principal Investigator for IBM Research, sees the movie as a recruitment tool.
“If I can get a thousand kids to join science rather go into law school, I’d be super happy.” says Heinrich.
The manipulation of atoms also has a more practical use: data storage. Heinrich believes that by starting with the smallest building blocks it will effectively mark the end of Moore’s Law, which states: “The number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months.”
Heinrich and his colleagues were able to store 1 bit of information, the zeros and ones that form binary code, on just 12 atoms as opposed to the 1 million atoms on conventional computers.
“If commercialized, this atomic memory could one day store all of the movies ever made in a device the size of a fingernail,” the press release explains.