Nanoscale Moviemaking

Some budding movie directors at IBM decided that claymation models were just too big for their stop-motion storytelling needs. So they’ve put together a short using simple carbon monoxide molecules magnified 100 million times. While it’s over a minute in length, it’s still the world’s smallest movie:

Yeah, he’s small, but he’s still got more screen presence than Kirk Cameron.

Here’s the “making of” bit:

The press release gives a sense of the potential for this kind of technology:

Developing the world’s smallest movie is not entirely new ground for IBM. For decades, scientists at IBM Research have studied materials at the nanoscale to explore the limits of data storage, among other things.

As computer circuits shrink toward atomic dimensions — which they have for decades in accordance with Moore’s Law — chip designers are running into physical limitations using traditional techniques. The exploration of unconventional methods of magnetism and the properties of atoms on well-controlled surfaces allows IBM scientists to identify entirely new computing paths.

Using the smallest object available for engineering data storage devices – single atoms – the same team of IBM researchers who made this movie also recently created the world’s smallest magnetic bit. They were the first to answer the question of how many atoms it takes to reliably store one bit of magnetic information: 12. By comparison, it takes roughly 1 million atoms to store a bit of data on a modern computer or electronic device. If commercialized, this atomic memory could one day store all of the movies ever made in a device the size of a fingernail.