IBM is using a new process called "airgap" to improve the efficiency and speed of its chips.

The company is copying the natural shapes of snowflakes and seashells that it says will run 35% faster and consume 15% less energy.

The process involves enabling trillions of microscopic vacuum holes to be placed between the copper wire in chips to act as an insulator.

Using this technique prevents the leaking between wires of electrical energy which creates unwanted heat. In technical summary, IBM developed a way to control interaction between self-assembling molecules to create the vacuum holes.

These were first developed in 2001 but mass production has produced valuable results.

"We have managed to harness the kinds of processes we see in nature to make regular patterns - such as the layers of enamel on your teeth, or the shape of a seashell if you look under a microscope", said Mr Edlestein, IBM Fellow and chief scientist of the self-assembly airgap project.