Phone Will Soon Need Charging Just Once a Month

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Technophiles who have been dreaming of mobile devices that run longer on lighter, slimmer batteries may soon find their wish list has been granted. University of Illinois engineers have developed a form of ultralow power digital memory that is faster and uses 100 times less energy than anything else available. The technology could give future portable devices much longer battery life between charges.

Led by Professor Eric Pop, the team will publish its results in an upcoming issue of Science. Anyone who is dealing with a lot of chargers and plugging things in every night can relate to wanting a cell phone or laptop whose batteries can last for weeks or months.

                     The flash memory used in mobile devices today stores bits as charge, which requires high voltages to operate and is rather slow. The team lowered the power per bit to 100 times less than existing flash memory by focusing on one simple yet key factor size. Rather than the metal wires standard in industry the group used carbon Nanotubes, tiny tubes only few nanometers in diameter 10000 times smaller than a human air. The energy consumption is essentially scaled with volume of memory bit. By using Nanoscale contacts it is possible to achieve much smaller power consumption. Carbon nanotubes are the smallest known electronic conductors. They are better than any metal at delivering a little jolt of electricity to zap the flash memory bit.

Nanotubes also boast an extraordinary stability as they are not susceptible to the degradation that can plague metal wires. In addition they are immune to accident erasure from a passing scanner or magnet.

The new flash memory chip could be used in existing devices allowing for a significant increase in battery life. Right now a smart phone uses about a watt of energy and laptop runs on more than 25 watts. Some of that energy goes to the display, but an increasing percentage is dedicated to memory.

Led by Professor Eric Pop, the team will publish its results in an upcoming issue of Science. Anyone who is dealing with a lot of chargers and plugging things in every night can relate to wanting a cell phone or laptop whose batteries can last for weeks or months.

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