National Physical Laboratory

Nanostrain provides hope for battery drain

As phones become more powerful, the demand that they place on batteries increases. This can lead to the need for frequent charges, inconveniencing users and limiting performance. One possible solution is to develop new transistor materials that use less power, extending battery life. Piezoelectric material is one such material, changing its shape or 'strain' in response to applied voltages. This property can be used to make digital switches that offer increased speeds, reduced size and lower power consumption.

Many people need to charge their smartphones every day (image courtesy of iStockphoto)
Many people need to charge their smartphones
every day (©iStock.com/baloon111)

The objective of the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP) Nanostrain project is to enable the exploitation of commercial opportunities arising from controlled strain in nanoscale piezoelectrics. Nanostrain is funded by the EMRP and brings together national laboratories, world-class research instrument facilities and commercial companies from across Europe to achieve its aim.

Using a range of novel techniques, the Nanostrain project is developing new tools for the characterisation of strain at the nanoscale, under real-life, relevant conditions of high stress and electric fields. In one example, a team of scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) collaborated with the XMaS beamline, based at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, to develop a new measurement technique to measure strain limits in thin films. The instrumentation developed presents a method to explore how such material reacts to applications of voltage, and reveals a detailed picture of the structural, and therefore electronic, transport properties of such material.

If successful, the Nanostrain project could help to provide an array of benefits to those of us who rely on smartphones, tablets and laptops through delivering greater processing power. These include faster internet access, reduced device weight, longer battery life and lower energy consumption, the exact issues plaguing smartphone manufacturers today. With these capabilities, we could potentially reinstate Moore's Law and see a new era of computing.

Read the full article in Computer Weekly

Find out more about the EMRP Nanostrain project

Find out more about NPL's research on Functional Materials

For further details, please contact Mark Stewart

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Last Updated: 16 Mar 2016
Created: 15 Mar 2016

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