Researchers working on 10x more efficient cellphone batteries

By on October 29, 2010, 11:06 AM
The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, is working on making gadgets 10 times more efficient when in use, and almost eliminating energy consumption when idle. The project is called Steeper, after the novel transistors it is focusing on, which get their name because of the abrupt change they exhibit when switching between on and off states.

This inefficiency contributes to the growing amount of energy lost when gadgets and household appliances are put into standby mode. The plan is to use nanotechnology to "close" up the leaky transistors. Research on the new transistors is still under way, with a prototype expected to be ready sometime in 2015. If the research teams succeed in their aim of making such devices, they would use far less power than existing transistor designs which typically leak energy even when supposedly turned off.

Like a leaky faucet, today's transistors are never fully closed even when they're off. "It's old technology," Professor Adrian Ionescu from the school's Nanolab told The New York Times. "What we want to use is nanoscience and nanowires, so when you want to close it, you do close it. Our vision is to share this research to enable manufacturers to build the Holy Grail in electronics, a computer that utilizes negligible energy when it's in sleep mode, which we call the zero-watt PC."

User Comments: 40

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poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

This would be HUGE. I know my storm battery is worthless. I even purchased the extended battery and it's not that much better. Not to mention extending this to Laptops and other portable devices. I can't wait for something like this in 1-3 years.

Leeky Leeky said:

My HTC Desire has pretty cool battery life, even given that it uses an always on connection, and I never turn wireless off either. I still get around 2 days before needing to charge it.

Thats considerably better than my previous iPhone 3GS that barely lasted a day if I was lucky!

thedrelle said:

That is awesome. I wonder how much this will cost, and when it will be publicly available.

hitech0101 said:

Interesting but we also need batteries that charge to full capacity more quickly.

limpangel limpangel said:

@Emil Protalinski: The title of the article is misleading. The article is actually about a new type of transistors that use less energy when electronic devices are in stand-by/sleep mode, thus prolonging the battery life. It has nothing to do with the efficiency of cellphone batteries.

frodough said:

15 hr battery for moderate phone users would be great! so im only asking 2x or 3x what's now. can we have that then you guys can go for 10x?

Demons said:

I hardly ever put my computer into sleep mode anyway... I just shut it down. It never works right coming back from sleep mode anyway. Although I'm sure this tech will be useful in other ways... not really cell phone batteries...

drasho said:

I wonder if it gonna make a big difference for people that have their laptops on most of the time. This probably wont affect the user who play game... His battery will probably drain as fast while gaming =/

TwiztidSef said:

I always kinda thought battery technology was lagging behind other technologies. We will see what happens when it comes out though.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Demons said:

I hardly ever put my computer into sleep mode anyway... I just shut it down. It never works right coming back from sleep mode anyway. Although I'm sure this tech will be useful in other ways... not really cell phone batteries...

The one thing I do notice on waking my computer from sleep vs starting it up from being off is that my Core Temp shows that the computer is running about 10 C hotter vs if I reboot it.

cardriverx said:

"I hardly ever put my computer into sleep mode anyway... I just shut it down. It never works right coming back from sleep mode anyway. Although I'm sure this tech will be useful in other ways... not really cell phone batteries... "

So you turn off your cellphone everytime you put it in your pocket? This would be great for cell phones, as they are in sleep mode %70 of the time (whenever its locked and in your pocket/whatever).

Jibberish18 said:

God, this is the hundredth time we've heard of new technology that's going to improve batter life. They're all ideas so far. Nano-This, Carbon-That, Graphene-Those. Let's get cracking people. This is the main thing holding us back in so many fields, including Mobile Phones and Electric Vehicles for starters.

sMILEY4ever said:

A zero-watt PC would truly be a feat.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

I was just talking to my girlfriend that we will either have to find other energy supplies with these devices or make them last longer.... Good to see this article the day after talking about it so I can show it to her. She didnt really think there was a problem with today current battery technology. When cell phones die in one day... how can this really be very useful in a portable device. They should last for at least a week without being huge clunkers... "should" being the key word...

akannitaoheed said:

This is certainly great news especially for people like me who spend more time using devices than charge them. i need my phones and laptop on for long unfortunately it's so difficult to get good batteris for long hour operations.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I hardly ever put my computer into sleep mode anyway... I just shut it down. It never works right coming back from sleep mode anyway. Although I'm sure this tech will be useful in other ways... not really cell phone batteries...
Other than an occasional failure to detect the mouse from time ro time, I have little to no trouble in waking my machines from S-3 sleep. It's possible you have other problems causing this. You really shouldn't have to reboot constantly, although Windows does in fact, like to be restarted from time to time.

Se7enVII said:

This would definitely be awesome. The use/productivity of cellphones would sky rocket.

Regenweald said:

I loved them before i even read this article. If successful and globally adopted, this could bring in an energy efficient age.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

i would love to have just 3x the battery life in my moto droid overclocked to 1000Mhz my battery gos dead in like 5 hours with moderate use.

princeton princeton said:

This would be great. I just purchased 2 more batteries for my palm pre because it dies so often.

bugejakurt said:

Thats good news! I always complain about batteries loosing their charge.... especially for my PSP battery. I don't know why but its charge is lost completely in a matter of idle days, and I need to charge it again each time configuring first time PSP start-up settings.

alexandrionel said:

By any chance do you know the nationality of Adrian Ionescu? Because it is typical romanian.

uttaradhaka said:

This is nice. The battery life in devices today are horrible. The only reason we don't complain more is because we've gotten used to it. All kinds of tech are moving to the new generation, except battery tech.. I would personally like my Android phone's battery to last at least 3 days of use, 1 day (at most).. But, I guess we'll have to wait a while for that still

m0nty said:

it's about time they did something with regards to batteries, especially with all the technology in smartphones today.

and whilst they're at it, can they do something for laptop batteries too? Li-ion are great, but they aren't so great when 1 day you switch on, boot up and you get a prompt on-screen telling you your battery capacity is below 38% which means it is useless. it won't charge up anymore. and it costs you nearly a quarter of the price of the laptop itself to buy a replacement..

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Battery technology has always been the weak link in our mobile devices. A decade ago, a Lithium-Ion battery could power up your monochrome or 1st generation color screen phone for a week or two. Today, mobile phones use high-resolution touch screens and a multitude of connectivity options and background programs. It's no wonder that phone batteries often last less than a day of full use. I hope they can speed up this new technology but we have heard such promises before. Oh well, just have to live with " Low Batt " for at least the next 5 years

jxdang said:

I hope this battery technology will materialize. We can definitely use more battery capacity as smartphones are getting bigger and more complex. By next year we will have dual core processors in smartphones. It's basically a mini computer! I find that battery technology has always lagged behind as compared to other technological advances. Look at laptops. No modern day laptops can claim 4 or 5 hrs of battery life. Netbooks can boast 6 to 8 hrs of batt life only because they use a strip down, low powered CPU (mainly single & dual core only). You're giving up CPU horse power for longer batt life.

danteoz said:

They have been talking about making more efficient batteries for years and we have yet to see much come from it. I hope that they finally start to develop longer lasting more efficient batteries

Faller said:

This said the prototype wasn't going to be ready until 2015. It has a lot more than 1-3 years of a wait for something like this.

mtrenal said:

Yeah, this technology is so far off that its not worth deciding that you cant wait for it. While I agree with the poster who said that battery technology has lagged behind every other aspect of technology, all we can do now is move towards a more efficient state, however long that takes. The effects of paying less attention to battery power will still be felt for another couple years, at least.

Timonius Timonius said:

Nansistors, yay! That would be awesome, but hopefully business politics won't interfere with it. Imagine the battery companies losing money because they aren't selling as many battery cells.

nismo91 said:

not only more efficient, but more durable please.

college spook said:

This would be awesome if it actually got out to the public. We hear about so many cool pieces of tech that would just revolutionize portable electronics, but its always the same old thing.

chaosdiablo said:

10% is good for now there needs to be more work juice they can squeeze out of the new batteries even for the phones because the phones are doing alot more than years ago

gayfish said:

really doubt whether they would be commercially viable...

even if they come they would be expensive and by the time it becomes cheap we would be literally carrying smart-computers not smart phones...

poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

It's always interesting to read what people's opinions are about things. That's why I think the comments on stories is great. It really opens your eyes to how others think compared to you.

bam13 said:

Sounds great but letÂ's face the truth, we still have to wait few more years plus IÂ'm really curious about the retail price...itÂ's really a shame that batteries are the very last components that are being innovated, when you compare them to displays or processors for example

eeprom said:

good news, smart phone nowadays really battery hungry

maXimus4444 maXimus4444 said:

How awesome would it be to have a battery that could last!

How many times has your battery died before lunch time. It seems as though the technology the battery provides power for has taken precedence over the power that provides the technology.

I think we've all been waiting for advancement in battery life, and it looks like we have to wait a little while longer.

flocka said:

now our phones will cost an additional $100.........

kaonis92 said:

yes the current batteries look outdated nowadays in comparison to the fast evolving technology of chips and networks...

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