Researchers at IBM have managed to crack a conundrum which means microchips could dramatically fall in size. They are predicting that data could be stored at the atomic level, meaning processors could fall to the size of a particle of dust.

Not only does this mean you could store the entire contents of YouTube on a device the size of an iPod, it also suggests that things like laptops would have dramatically reduced power consumption making us able to use them in whole new ways and in places without power supplies.

Even more amazing is IBM’s work which has discovered the way to make a “molecular switch” which means that silicon based microprocessors could eventually be replaced.

It will be at least another ten years before commercial devices are available using atomic memory and molecular switches, say the researchers. However, combined with work on the potential for paper batteries and flexible screens and you can see that the kinds of technologies we use now will appear to be “steam driven” in about ten years time. It also means that the way we do business online will radically change when these new technologies combine as we will be able to reach many more people in a variety of places and situations where they are currently unreachable.

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