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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > The Future of Nanotechnology > How Nanotechnology Will Be Used in Smartphones

Amanda Richter

Abstract:
The specs and tech of smartphones is in a constant state of advancement. Faster phones get thinner, cameras have more megapixels and screens have better resolution as they become more durable with the invention of OLED screens, which are flexible and less likely to crack or shatter. With this constant advancement it shouldn't be a surprise that nanotechnology is tipped as the next technology to find its way into your pocket. Here's a look at how nanotech will change your smartphone experience and the world at large.

May 20th, 2016

How Nanotechnology Will Be Used in Smartphones

The specs and tech of smartphones is in a constant state of advancement. Faster phones get thinner, cameras have more megapixels and screens have better resolution as they become more durable with the invention of OLED screens, which are flexible and less likely to crack or shatter. With this constant advancement it shouldn't be a surprise that nanotechnology is tipped as the next technology to find its way into your pocket. Here's a look at how nanotech will change your smartphone experience and the world at large.

Nanotech 101
Most people are vaguely aware that nanotechnology is out there, but it's still a nebulous term for most people. Nanoscience and nanotechnolgoy is involved with controlling individual atoms. Atoms make up all matter in the known universe. Until recently nanotechnology use was a hypothetical component in energy efficiency, healthcare and environmental clean up. Once individual atoms are controlled, they can be manipulated to fulfill a specific task, such as to regenerate cells in a human body or increase power density in batteries.

Battery Technology
The effectiveness of batteries is measured in terms of power density: how much energy can be stored by weight. Lithium-ion batteries are the current standard for electronics such as laptop computers, smartphones and electric cars. However, there are some safety concerns with lithium-ion batteries, not least of which was a well-publicized issue of computer batteries catching on fire some years ago.

Many companies have R&D divisions dedicated to the advancement of battery technology through nanoscience. Many companies have tested nanotechnology on their smartphone batteries, and Samsung has tested it on the Galaxy S7. By coating the electrons with nanoparticles or nanowires, the anodes that hold the lithium ions get a boost to their power density, as nanoparticles weigh nearly nothing but create more area in which power can be stored.

Where the Future Leads
While nanotech will likely be used in batteries and, by extension, smartphones in the near future, many believe the functionality of nanotech in mobile devices goes far beyond the topic of power density. In fact some scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology think you might someday charge your phone while you walk, jog or do some other physical activity by way of nanotechnology. Back in 2014, the first presentation was given to the American Chemical Society that showed off the first nanogenerators that could convert the kinetic energy you create while you walk into usable energy.

While this may sound like science fiction, it's only the tip of the iceberg. Air Liquide is a company that works closely with electronic manufacturers and is a leader in nanotechnology innovation. This company actually designs molecules that boost the power and functionality of electronics like smartphones. For instance, the microprocessor in your smartphone has 1 billion transistors, which Air Liquide may very well have manufactured. However, Air Liquide's ambitions reach far beyond nanotechnology in smartphones alone. In fact they predict a world of connected devices well over 25 billion units by the year 2020. With a market that is in a state of constant growth, the use of nanotechnology will only become more prevalent in the future.

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