Nerval's Lobster writes: "IBM announced this week that it has developed a way to manufacture both logic and memory that relies on a small drop of “ionic liquid” to flip oxides back and forth between an insulating and conductive state without the need to constantly draw power. In theory, that means both memory and logic built using those techniques could dramatically save power. IBM described the advance in the journal Science, and also published a summary of its results to its Website. The central idea is to eliminate as much power as possible as it moves through a semiconductor. IBM’s solution is to use a bit of “ionic liquid” to flip the state. IBM researchers applied a positively charged ionic liquid electrolyte to an insulating oxide material—vanadium dioxide—and successfully converted the material to a metallic state. The material held its metallic state until a negatively charged ionic liquid electrolyte was applied in order to convert it back to its original, insulating state. A loose analogy would be to compare IBM’s technology to the sort of electronic ink used in the black-and-white versions of the Kindle and other e-readers. There, an electrical charge can be applied to the tiny microcapsules that contain the “ink,” hiding or displaying them to render a page of text. Like IBM’s solution, the e-ink doesn’t require a constant charge; power only needs to be applied to re-render or “flip” the page. In any event, IBM’s technique could conceivably be applied to both mobile devices as well as power-hungry data centers."
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