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In terms of the bitcoin code, I believe I well understand the asymptotic 21 million hard cap on the upper limit of the protocol.

I have heard rumors that it is possible to transfer less than one Satoshi (1/100000000).

Is this true? If so, is there a hardcoded lower limit to the divisional capacities of units of bitcoin?

If no lower limit in the protocol, do we run into an issue of infinite supply on the lower side?

Example: if I have an ounce of gold and it gets so valuable that I need to cut it down to a single atom in order to pay for a sandwich, that is a physically hardcoded lower limit. If I cut that atom I no longer have gold.

Bitcoin does not have this physical boundary. If a single bitcoin were to become so valuable that I wanted to cut the smallest unit in half, might I risk increasing the supply infinitely?

Of course this may be a moot example already addressed in the code as it stands.

Anyone please clarify. Thank you in advance!

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  • The premise of this question is false in the first place, dividing something into smaller parts dos not increase the supply of that thing!
    – chytrik
    Aug 2 '21 at 10:30
  • Please see the answer from Anonymous, below which clarifies the question quite elegantly.
    – Kabzj
    Aug 3 '21 at 18:14
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There is absolutely no ability in Bitcoin for higher resolution than 1 Satoshi, as all values are internally represented in this unit. You can do this on second layer systems like Lightning which can allow arbitrary small amounts of BTC to be interacted with using that network, but the precision within Bitcoin itself is unlikely to change, if for no other reason than it is technically challenging.

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  • The main limit is not technical, but economical. Since transactions are paid for in satoshis per weight unit, it is completely uneconomical to transfer anything smaller than what is considered "dust", as you must pay more to spend those outputs than the outputs contain in satoshis. Thus, the smallest unit of transferable bitcoin is really the dust limit, not the individual satoshi. Even with a technological solution to transfer sub-satoshi amounts, you would be losing money by doing so.
    – Mark H
    Aug 7 '21 at 11:58

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