Tech

Batteries Could Power Gizmos for Months, Thanks to New Memory Tech

Three parallel memory bits with carbon nanotube electrodes -- hair-thin elements that could be used to build super-endurance batteries. The middle bit is in the "off" state, the other two are "on." A silicon dioxide substrate is shown in blue.

Three parallel memory bits with carbon nanotube electrodes -- hair-thin elements that could be used to build super-endurance batteries. The middle bit is in the "off" state, the other two are "on." A silicon dioxide substrate is shown in blue.  (Eric Pop, University of Illinois)

Engineers claimed Friday that they discovered a way to significantly prolong battery life, meaning that cell phones and laptops could run for months without having to be recharged.

The University of Illinois researchers said they developed a form of ultra-low-power digital memory that could extend battery life by up to 100 times, by replacing metal wires in the devices' memories, which use up most of their battery power, with so-called nanotubes -- carbon tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair.

"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," researcher Feng Xiong was quoted as saying in the journal Science.
Professor Eric Pop, who heads the team, added that the research could one day mean that mobile devices had hugely extended battery life, saying that "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 research could also be groundbreaking for much larger devices.

"We're not just talking about lightening our pockets or purses," Pop said. "This is also important for anything that has to operate on a battery -- such as satellites, telecommunications equipment in remote locations or any number of scientific and military applications."