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Memory breakthrough could lead to weeks between mobile recharges

Lucas Mearian | March 15, 2011
University of Illinois engineers have developed a form of ultra-low-power digital memory could someday provide consumers with hand-held devices that go without recharging for weeks or even months.

The nanotube PCM could increase a mobile device's energy efficiency to the point where a smartphone could run for a longer time on a smaller battery, or even to the point where it could be powered without a battery by simply by harvesting its own thermal, mechanical or solar energy, Pop said.

"I think anyone who is dealing with a lot of chargers and plugging things in every night can relate to a cell phone or laptop whose batteries can last for weeks or months," said Pop, who is also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois.

The researchers noted that batteries today mostly power the display of a smart phone or ultra-portable laptop, though an increasing percentage is dedicated to memory.

"Anytime you're running an app, or storing MP3s, or streaming videos, it's draining the battery," said graduate student Albert Liao, a co-author of the upcoming report. "The memory and the processor are working hard retrieving data. As people use their phones less to place calls and more for computing, improving data storage and retrieval operations is important."

The team said the nanotube PCM could also be used to reduce power consumption on any device run by a battery, including satellites, remote telecommunications equipment, as well as a number of scientific and military applications.


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