IBM_research_logicIBM has had a materials science breakthrough at the atomic level, that could pave the way for a new class of non-volatile memory and logic chips, says the company.

IBM’s scientists have discovered a way to operate chips using tiny ionic currents, which are streams of charged atoms, that could mimic the event-driven way in which the human brain operates.

Metal oxides have been around for quite some time, and being able transitioning this material from an insulator to a conducting metal has already been accomplished.  However, being able to transition the material to a stable enough state so it can be used as a switch has been the biggest challenge.

Dr. Stuart Parkin (IBM Fellow, IBM Research): Our ability to understand and control matter at atomic scale dimensions allows us to engineer new materials and devices that operate on entirely different principles than the silicon based information technologies of today.

By applying a charged ionic liquid electrolyte to the substance, IBM Researchers have cracked the code to maintaining a stable insulating and conducting state of the oxide material.  This new discovery opens up a path for making oxide based switches and logic gates a standard in the semiconductor chip manufacturing process of the future.

[Image courtesy: IBM]