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Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said IBM's advance is an interesting first step considering the industry is rapidly approaching a place where silicon will no longer be able to scale down to make smaller and smaller micro circuits. In other words, he said, it will be physically impossible to go past the atomic stage.
"IBM has come up with a way of running ionized electrolytes through the metal oxide and, depending on the type of ions running through the electrolytes, they can switch the electrolytes from being an insulator to being a conductor," King said. "When you are ready to turn them on and off you simply start running the electrolyte through it.
"From a practical standpoint, if you could make commercial products based on this, which is one big if, a computing chip could run on a tiny fraction of the electricity of today's microprocessor."