Nanotechnology is making the future “recharge free” according to a study. Investigators are now exploring on the possibility of making battery life longer and recharging time shorter. This means more efficient gadgets with a reduction in power drains.
At the University of Illinois, a team of engineers is now designing more efficient devices that can survive without a recharge every other day or so. The scientists say the key to redesigning lies on the primary reason for the power drain-memory. Most modern electronic gadgets work using flash memory; bits of data are stored in this memory in the form of an electric charge. This activity, however, requires high voltage and often leads to fast power drainage. Eric Pop and other engineers are exploring alternatives for flash memory, which can eventually sustain gadgets with longer power, thus leading to energy efficiency and a reduced need to recharge.
The research team introduces a new type of memory called Phase Change Materials or PCM. In this type of memory, running electric currents through nanowires produces heat. This then switches the wire between two states. This type of memory has the promise for a more efficient energy use compared to flash memory.
There are even more efficient types of PCM, says Eric Pop. PCMs that use carbon nanotubes; which are series of minute, atomic chains, can be used instead of metal wires. These types of tubes are believed to change the way memory will be accessed for the coming decades. The research team already tested a number of these new types of memory. The results confirmed that this type of technology only utilizes 1% of the power used today.
The Carbon Nanotube
What are carbon nanotubes? They are simply tiny tubes composed of chains of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms form a pattern similar to a honeycomb, this pattern serves as the structure for the tube’s walls. This pattern makes the walls stronger even if its size is reduced. The size of these carbon nanotubes is almost similar to human DNA, which is comparable to the size of the human hair, smaller by 10,000 times.
The concept of carbon nanotubes is not something new. In fact research had been conducted before to explore the possible use of these strong yet miniscule tubes. Carbon nanotubes have been a focal interest because of its strength, flexibility, and lightness. Fuel filter housing for Audi’s A4 and A5 models and high quality tennis rackets already utilizes these nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes also caught the attention of NASA, and they are now exploring on how to use the material for creating a cable that can eventually support a space elevator.
When it comes to electronic gadgets and memory, these nanotubes serve as excellent conductors. Copper wires can never be shrunk to the size of these nanotubes, disabling it to conduct electricity well. Size is another advantage, as a smaller contact point in the memory means less energy is needed for power.
The Future: Carbon Nanotubes in iPods, Smart phones and Tablets
The potential use of carbon nanotubes in electronic gadgets seem promising, but Pop says it will still take years before this technology can be applied to electronic gadgets such as iPods, mobile phones, tablets, etc. The technology is compared to what silicon was during the 1960s. But with the increasing use of efficient devices such as phones and tablets, and with the decreasing demand in PCs, the researchers hope carbon nanotubes would also have the same ending with silicon. For the meantime, the research team is concentrating on exploring the efficiency of nanotubes with high hopes that in the future it will power our devices for a extended period of time
Mike Matthews, the guest author is a writer of articles tackling topics on technology and online marketing. He also writes about internet issues such as online reputation management, and online reputation repair.