World’s Smallest Animation Showcases IBM’s Research in Data Storage
Meet Adam. He is young, playful, and made completely out of carbon monoxide molecules.
Adam and his little pet atom are the stars of the world’s smallest animation titled, A Boy and His Atom.
Produced by researchers at IBM, this miniscule short film was made by moving carbon monoxide molecules frame by frame at a magnification level of 100,000,000 times.
The device responsible for moving each individual molecule is the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM). It is kept in a room at around -260 degrees Celsius in order to slow down the molecules. To position the slowed molecules, the needle-like STM drags individual molecules across a copper plate. At the molecular level, the atom at the tip of the small needle chemically reacts with the molecule of interest to move it to the desired position.
The ability to translocate atoms over surfaces is being investigated for its uses in data storage and computing. Currently, one bit of information can be stored on a magnet made of 1,000,000 atoms. However, in 2012, IBM’s researchers were able to store the same amount of information with merely 12 atoms. In an interview, principal investigator Andreas Heinrich stated that with this discovery, you could store all the movies that have ever existed on your iPod (IBM).
Although A Boy and His Atom is not directly related to IBM’s research in data storage, it showcases a scientific breakthrough in a fun, entertaining manner. It represents great technological advances in the digital age and introduces the ability to store colossal amounts of information beyond belief.
- Janine Truong
(Source: IBM / The Telegraph )