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"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
- Bart Kosko

Ion Drive  
  A space drive that emits a stream of ions as reaction mass; it starts out slow but builds up to interstellar speeds.  

It has its own ion drive, a regular crew of six, and plenty of additional space for our party.
From Equalizer, by Jack Williamson.
Published by Astounding S-F in 1947
Additional resources -

I believe that the T.I.E. fighters from Star Wars also used a form of ion propulsion, but maybe a bit zippier. Also, compare to the sun-powered ionic motor from The Planet Strappers (1961), by Raymond Z. Gallun. The earliest use of this idea is Positive Ray Propulsion from The Prince of Space (1931) by Jack Williamson. See also the use of finely divided dust as propellant from Earthlight (1955) by Arthur C. Clarke.

One popular recent use of the idea of pushing a spacecraft with a fine stream of ions is as a kind of mini-thruster for tiny satellites. Take a look at these stories:

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Equalizer
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Williamson
  Tech news articles related to Equalizer
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Williamson

Ion Drive-related news articles:
  - SMART-1's Ion Drive Not Science Fiction
  - UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records

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