- Smartphones could one day “last a month” before running out of power
- The new microchip is so efficient that the devices only need to be charged 12 times a year
Are you constantly worried that you’re running out of battery? Smartphones could one day “last a month” before running out of power.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge are working on a microchip that could work so efficiently that devices would only need to be charged 12 times a year.
Vaire, the team’s commercial arm, is one of a dozen semiconductor startups the government is backing to put Britain at the forefront of the industry.
Technology Minister Paul Scully said semiconductors were the “foundation” of the modern world, vital in everything from powering electric cars to fighting disease.
Today it announced a two-year £1.3m program that will mentor a select few start-ups to help them “revolutionise” the lives of Britons.
Are you constantly worried that you’re running out of battery? Smartphones could one day “last a month” before running out of power (file image)
Among them is MintNeuro, a company that has invented a small brain implant the size of a peppercorn that can help patients suffering from diseases such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy.
The Vaire microchip that could improve the battery life of smartphones is the brainchild of a team of mathematics researchers at the University of Cambridge.
The idea is based on designing a silicon chip processor that needs almost zero power to run, meaning there is less need for a better battery.
Although there is very little information in the public domain about it so far, Sean Redmond, chief executive of SiliconCatalyst.UK, which is leading the project, said: “If they can actually live up to that outrageous claim, it means they will have a mobile phone that will last a month, not a day.
“Today no one in the world has been able to realize that in a semiconductor chip; if anyone can do it, this team in Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, will be able to do it.”
The MintNeuro chip, developed by researchers at Imperia College London, is more than 100 times smaller than the latest devices.
Similar devices have been used for decades, for example cochlear implants for deaf people and deep brain stimulators to help people with Parkinson’s deal with tremors.
But the technology behind it hasn’t progressed much either: It requires a long wire under the skin that connects to a circuit board and a battery housed in a bulky metal casing the size of a matchbox.
MintNeuro’s chip can communicate wirelessly and is designed to remain safely in the brain for decades. While the process is currently considered a last resort, the new chips only require minimally invasive surgery.
MintNeuro’s chip can communicate wirelessly and is designed to remain safely in the brain for decades.
While the process is currently considered a last resort, the new chips only require minimally invasive surgery.
Amid fears about China’s dominance in the sector, the government announced earlier this year that it would invest £1bn over the next decade in the UK’s own chip industry.
Mr Scully said: “Semiconductors are the foundation of our modern economy and an increasingly integral part of our lives.
‘These companies are harnessing Britain’s research leadership to open doors to innovation and growth, while designing chips that could really change the way we live our lives.
‘Whether they are innovating the way we support Parkinson’s patients or about to supercharge the way AI is used, these companies are the brightest sparks in the UK’s thriving semiconductor industry.
“This incubator will ensure they have the skills they need to revolutionize the lives of people not just in the UK, but around the world.”