Scientists get €1m in mobile phone battery life research project

Irish and American scientists are to receive more than €1m to research new ways to improve the battery life of mobile phones and other portable devices.

Researchers at the Tyndall National Institute in University College Cork, Dublin City University, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Texas in Dallas are to collaborate on the three-year project which aims to reduce power consumption in mobile devices.

Researchers will also explore new materials in the miniaturisation of transistors which are essential to all portable devices.

The project is to receive €343,000 from Science Foundation Ireland, £319,859 from Invest NI and $420,000 from the National Science Foundation in the US.

The Irish and American scientists are collaborating to develop ultra-efficient electronic materials through the Unite project: Understanding the nature of interfaces in two-dimensional electronic devices.

Unite will create and test the properties of atomically-thin layers of semiconductors called transition metal dichalcogenides. These are 100,000 times smaller than the smallest thing the human eye can see. The properties these materials have displayed suggest they could facilitate extremely efficient power usage and high performance computing.

“Materials that we are currently reliant on, such as silicon, are soon expected to reach the limit of their performance,” said Tyndall’s lead researcher Dr Paul Hurley.

“If we want to continue to increase performance, while maintaining or even reducing power consumption, it is important to explore these new transition metal dichalcogenides materials.”

The application of these materials in transistors could prolong the battery charge life of portable devices and phones, as well as having applications in larger more power-intensive operations like data storage and server centres.

Unite builds on a previous highly successful US-Ireland collaborative project between these academic research partners called Focus. The success of this project played a role in demonstrating why funders should back the new project, including training for five graduate students in the USA and Ireland, as well as student exchanges between the institutes.


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