UL professor’s discovery will increase smartphone battery life

By: June 16, 2020
UL professor Damien Thompson increases smartphone battery life

Improving battery life is one of the ‘Holy Grails’ of the 520 billion-dollar global smartphone industry.

A team at the University of Limerick says it has co-discovered a new device that will end overheating in portable devices and prolong battery lifetimes.

The Materials Modelling Group based in the Bernal Institute at UL, working with an international team of researchers, co-discovered a new type of molecular switch that could “considerably reduce power consumption in devices”.

Predictive materials design
The finding was recently reported in the world-leading science journal Nature Materials. It comes at a time when consumer demand for lighter, more compact smartphones and tablets has never been higher.

Dr Damien Thompson (pictured), associate professor in Physics at UL who leads a research team in predictive materials design at the Bernal Institute says, “the engineered device is just two nanometres thick and provides an exciting new paradigm for creating electrical circuits”.

It works by combining both diode switch and memory element within the same single circuit component, which gives a significant improvement in power consumption.

“The new device could replace the larger and more energy-hungry ‘one diode–one resistor’ architecture”, that currently exists.

Dr Thompson collaborated with Prof Christian Nijhuis at the National University of Singapore and Prof Enrique del Barco of the University of Central Florida to produce this new molecular-scale solution for high-density computing.

New developments in artificial intelligence
“Support from Science Foundation Ireland and the EU allows us to push forward our capabilities to the point where our designs are providing solutions to global challenges,” says Thompson.

“Deciphering the underlying mechanisms of how smart materials work, gives us the confidence to propose bold new device designs. As the scientific community continues to advance the field of predictive materials modelling, we are discovering new developments in artificial intelligence, environmental monitoring and biopharma that will improve lives.”

The science paper
The paper, ‘Electric-field-driven dual-functional molecular switches in tunnel junctions’, by Yingmei Han, Cameron Nickle, Ziyu Zhang, Hippolyte P. A. G. Astier, Thorin J. Duffin, Dongchen Qi, Zhe Wang, Enrique del Barco, Damien Thompson and Christian A. Nijhuis, is published in Nature Materials and is available online here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41563-020-0697-5.