The role of the atom in this short film created by IBM Research was played by an actual atom.  Well, a molecule, really.  But a really small one.

You’re about to see the movie that holds the Guinness World Records™ record for the World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film. The ability to move single atoms — the smallest particles of any element in the universe — is crucial to IBM’s research in the field of atomic memory. But even nanophysicists need to have a little fun. In that spirit, IBM researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (two atoms stacked on top of each other), all in pursuit of making a movie so small it can be seen only when you magnify it 100 million times. A movie made with atoms.

The background is an ultrasmooth silicon surface, made of atoms too small to register as distinct details, so it appears smooth.  But the kicker?  The atoms that make the pixels are carbon monoxide molecules.  Yup.  IBM has gone down in history as the first people ever to animate smog.

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  • IBM’s “Made with Atoms” site – learn more about atomic memory, data storage and big data.