Newswise — After years of small-scale experiments, researchers are on the cusp of demonstrating fully functional, complex integrated circuits full of tiny versions of the relay--the simple electromechanical switch that was once used to build computers, before the rise of vacuum tubes. Nanorelays aren't as speedy as the transistors on today's chips, but what the switches lack in speed they make up in energy efficiency. The technology could pave the way for ultralow-power chips that can run off scavenged energy from acoustic vibrations, light, or ambient radio signals. With some clever engineering, it may even be possible to make nanorelays fast enough to drive the core logic inside cellphones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices.