IBM Makes World's Smallest Movie Using Deadly Carbon Monoxide
May 1, 2013 10:00 AM
Researchers also make tiny Star Trek stills
Dubbed "A Boy and His Atom" and certified by the Guinness World Book of Records as being the
smallest movie ever created
by mankind, International Business Machine Inc.'s (
scanning tunneling microscope (STM) technology
demonstration is generating an Oscar worthy buzz.
I. Directed by Tunneling Electrons
While the eventual goal of the IBM team is to use the STM or its successors to manipulate atoms to form tiny components like memory or transistors, IBM focused on as more light-hearted proof of concept.
In a one minute animation consisting of 242 frames of stop motion animation, with each frame measuring roughly 45 x 25 nanometers, the IBM researchers create a vivid scene of a boy befriending an "atom", then engaging in activities like "dancing, playing catch and bouncing on a trampoline."
In total 65 carbon monoxide molecules (consisting of two atoms each, for 130 total atoms) were positioned to create the objects in frame. The dots seen in frame are the oxygen atoms in the molecule. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless gas that is lethal to humans when inhaled in sufficient quantities.
In addition to the tiny movie, researchers also created a trio of stills to promote the upcoming
(Click to enlarge) [Image Source: IBM]
The stills show the iconic Federation logo, a Vulcan salute, and a tiny Starship Enterprise.
II. Towards <20 Atom Devices
IBM's Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig
won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986
for the invention of the STM, which allowed the first visualization of atoms. The STM works via hovering a tiny super-pointy copper probe over the surface. At 1 nm from the material surface the probe receives a small dose of tunneling electrons. The tool "scans" the surface, by moving parallel to the surface and adjusting the probe up and down to maintain constant current via the tunneling effect.
STMs can also be used to manipulate atoms on a nanoscopic scale. Moving atoms creates a unique sound, which IBM's equipment measures to determine how far it's been moved.
Christopher Lutz, Research Scientist, IBM Research, describes the STM used in the animation demo, remarking, "It weighs two tons, operates at a temperature of -268º Celsius (~-450º Fahrenheit) 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."
The cold temperatures are necessary to keep the atoms standing almost still; at room temperature they would oscillate making it impossible to achieve accurate manipulation.
IBM last January
a study on the use of STM technology to create the world's smallest memory device --
a 12-atom iron (Fe) magnet
, which can store a bit of data. Current memory circuits take around 1 million atoms.
A high quality atomic-scale STM can cost up to $150,000 USD or more [
]. If you like hobby electronics and can dig up and oscilloscope, you can make your own crude STM for around $150 USD,
according to this guide
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Scientists Cook Up 1-Atom Transistor, 12-Atom Magnetic Storage
February 20, 2012, 7:20 PM
World's Smallest Single-Molecule Electric Motor Developed
September 6, 2011, 4:45 PM
PIQ ROBOTTM reveals its new artificial intelligence software
November 29, 2016, 12:59 AM
One more time - Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone Around the World
November 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Google’s Smart Contact Lens Project gets halted for 2016
November 20, 2016, 7:00 AM
Cell Research Study shows African Americans have greater immune response to infection
November 10, 2016, 1:00 AM
UTHealth Clinical Trial Shows Progress Using Stem Cells to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
November 8, 2016, 1:00 AM
Uber Partners with Circulation to Pilot Program Connecting Transportation and Digital Health Care
November 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Sales Battle - Apple iPad Mini vs Samsung Galaxy Tab
November 29, 2016, 12:36 AM
Phillips 55’ 4K Smart TV – Is This Really a Deal? We Think So.
November 25, 2016, 9:44 AM
PlayStation 4 Pro – 4K Console for 4K TVs
November 28, 2016, 1:00 AM
Lenovo Yoga 900 and Lenovo Yogo 900S – Powerful Performance in an Ultra-Thin Packages
November 27, 2016, 5:00 AM
Best Phones of 2016 - Priced under $650.00
November 27, 2016, 5:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Dec 3, 2016, 5:00 AM
Dec 2, 2016, 5:00 AM
Surface Ergonomic Keyboard
Dec 1, 2016, 3:01 AM
Chapeconense plane crash: Football rallies around Brazilian Team
Nov 30, 2016, 1:00 AM
How to Extends Your iPhone’s Battery Life
Nov 29, 2016, 12:49 AM
Nov 28, 2016, 1:12 AM
News: Fidel Castro
Nov 27, 2016, 5:00 AM
Nov 26, 2016, 5:00 AM
Changes in Social status affect the way genes turn on and off within immune cells.
Nov 25, 2016, 5:12 AM
Austrian far–right hopeful Hofer may back EU vote.
Nov 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Final Fantasy XV Leaked Before Nov 29 Launch Date
Nov 23, 2016, 1:00 AM
Nov 22, 2016, 2:26 AM
Nov 21, 2016, 1:00 AM
HTC Makes Big Moves in China
Nov 20, 2016, 2:00 AM
Do you know who is the number one company in the word?
Nov 19, 2016, 5:30 AM
Foldable Cardboard ”EcoHelmet” wins James Dyson Award’s Top Prize
Nov 18, 2016, 2:39 AM
Scientists Discover Roundest Object Ever Spotted in Universe
Nov 17, 2016, 1:00 AM
Smallest Device Lets You Print Almost from Anywhere
Nov 16, 2016, 9:32 AM
Cancer Screening in the Community Is there a link between Cancer and Poverty?
Nov 15, 2016, 8:00 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information