Like a telegraph operator's Morse key, these levers physically make and break contact to pass or block currents."Steampunk chip takes the heat"
Application of a voltage makes the levers move under electrostatic attraction. At 550 °C Lee's team managed to get the inverter to switch on and off 500,000 times a second – performing a computation with each cycle. The faster the switching speed, the zippier the computing. Lee predicts that switching speeds of a billion times a second (1 gigahertz) are possible. That might not sound fast by the standards of desktop PCs, which often run at speeds in excess of 2.5 gigahertz, but for control system applications it's more than adequate.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.