A character named Atom befriends a single atom and together they have good times dancing, playing catch and bouncing on a trampoline. To make the movie, the atoms were moved with an IBM-invented scanning tunneling microscope, reports Phys.org.
The microscope won researchers Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig a Nobel Prize in physics in 1986, for moving atoms with with an extremely sharp needle placed just a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) above a copper surface.
"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," said Christopher Lutz, Research Scientist, IBM Research.
The microscope is used for atomic-scale research on data storage, proving, for example, that a digital bit can be stored in as little as 12 atoms.
"At IBM, researchers don't just read about science, we do it," said Andreas Heinrich of IBM Research. This movie is a fun way to share the atomic-scale world while opening up a dialogue with students and others on the new frontiers of math and science."
The IBM scientist had other atomic fun while they were at it. CNET reports they created a series of atomic-level "Star Trek" shots for an Android app that will come out with J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek Into Darkness."
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