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A Boy and his Atom

May 2, 2013

I know people have been posting this everywhere so you’ve probably all seen it by now, but it’s so awesome I just had to post it anyway. The smartypants folks over at IBM have made a short animated movie using ATOMS. You know, just the tiny little building blocks of the universe. They’re all like “oh we moved around individual atoms around to make a frame-by-frame movie… NBD GUYS.”

But the thing is, this IS a big deal. Like a really big deal. The point of this wasn’t to just waste a whole bunch of money operating a crazy expensive microscope (called a scanning tunneling microscope, if you were interested). The point was to explore the far-out limits of miniaturized data storage. Pretty much every single electronic thing you own utilizes transistors (probs made of silicon) to complete electrical circuits and all kinds of other groovy stuff. Before they were invented we had to use big old vacuum tubes to get the job done (think about old school TVs) – so transistors certainly revolutionized the world and made your fancy cell phone a reality.



But now we want to see just how tiny we can get those little microchips – and to do that we will need to invent even better technology than the transistor. This is why the scientists at IBM became interested in the magnetic properties of atoms on certain surfaces – if we can take advantage of placing atoms in specific places perhaps we can make the TINIEST and BESTEST data storage device ever known. In this case they are placing carbon atoms on a copper surface and moving them about with a teensy atom-sized needle. I mean seriously – I can barely manage to use a fork without stabbing myself in the face and these guys are moving around ATOMS with an ATOM NEEDLE. Jerks lol.

Anyway if you have a few minutes you can hear the researchers explain their work in this awesome video. If not, just watch the glorious outcome of their hard work…


From → General Science

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