A team of scientists at the University of Illinois has possibly discovered a way to make cell phone batteries that don’t need charging for months at a time. The team believes their method will enable mobile phone and laptop batteries to last up to 100 times longer. According to Stephen Adams, The Telegraph, it focuses on changing the way a device’s digital memory works, as this consumes much of the charge. Feng Xiong, a graduate student on the team who was lead author on a paper, to be published in the journal Science, explained: “The energy consumption is essentially scaled with the volume of the memory bit. By using nanoscale contacts, we are able to achieve much smaller power consumption.”
Carbon Nanotubes Make Lighter, More Powerful Cell Phone Batteries
Another team at MIT is doing similar research. The discovery could lead to a new way of producing electricity, the researchers say. The main factor is again carbon nanotubes, submicroscopic hollow tubes made of a honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms. According to an article by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office, “Like a collection of flotsam propelled along the surface by waves traveling across the ocean, it turns out that a thermal wave – a moving pulse of heat – traveling along a microscopic wire can drive electrons along, creating an electrical current. The phenomenon, described as thermopower waves, “opens up a new area of energy research, which is rare,” says Michael Strano, MIT’s Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, who was the senior author of a paper describing the new findings that appeared in Nature Materials on March 7. The lead author was Wonjoon Choi, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering.”
Carbon nanotubes? It sounds like something out of a science fiction novel. The applications for this technology are mind boggling as well. Tiny devices the size of a grain of rice could be injected into the body for medical treatment and monitoring. Environmental sensors could be scattered through the planet like crop dusting. Before you know it, the cell phone batteries will be the size of a grain of rice as well, enabling the phones themselves to be much lighter and thinner. Imagine how light a laptop could become. I could go on and on. The important thing is that look at all the ramifications of this technology before we set it loose. There are quite a few research projects being done in the medical field because apparently these little carbon nanotubes also lodge in the body and create cancer. While having an extended battery life seems pretty great, we need to step carefully.
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