We've Got The Power - Memory That Requires 100 Times Less Energy

Most efforts to improve the battery life of mobile devices center on the battery itself. But what of the work the battery has to do? Today's technology is becoming increasingly demanding on the resources that run our mobile devices, so surely the technology itself needs to bear some of the responsibility for keeping itself activated.

That's the thinking behind the latest development from the University of Illinois' Micro and Nanotechnology Lab. A research team led by Professor Eric Pop has developed memory that is not only faster than today's conventional memory, but also uses 100 times less energy.

Their ultra-low-power digital memory utilizes carbon nanotubes, instead of the traditional metal wires seen in most memory chips today. Because they are so small - 10,000 times smaller than a human hair - and so good at conducting electricity, they require considerably less energy than anything on the market today.

If that was the only benefit of this technology, we would have every reason to be excited. But it isn't. Nanotubes are a lot more stable than metal, and they're not affected by magnets. Also, because so much less heat is generated, it will be possible to stack these chips in three-dimensional integration, which hasn't been possible up to this point.

And all that is before they lower the power by another factor of 10, which Pop believes is easily possible once they "test the limits."

The only concern may be the cost, but if they combine some research from another Illinois institution, even the nanotubes could be cheap: