Individual Molecules Used to Make Smallest Movie Ever by IBM


A Boy and His Atom, this is the title of the smallest movie ever made. The movie was conceived by IBM researchers to get people interested in science. The researchers used a copper surface over which they created their story using carbon monoxide molecules. The molecules were moved by hand, one at a time, with help of a scanning tunneling electron microscope. This created 242 individual frames of animation, magnified at more than 100 million times for viewing. The electron microscope is remotely controlled and operates at a temperature of minus 268 degrees Celsius. Higher temperatures would cause the atoms to move freely.

IBM scientists say that the dots that form the image are the oxygen atoms in the carbon monoxide molecules. The motive for creating the movie was not to convey a specific scientific message directly, but to engage with students prompting them to ask questions.