Ottawa Student’s Invention May Revolutionize Phone Battery Life

Some days I miss the first cell phone I owned, a Nokia 5190. Sure it put a noticeable bulge in my pocket, but it didn’t waste energy on silly things like backlit colour screens and 3G networking. You could depend on it to get through more than 40 hours on a charge. Seriously though, I’m not actually complaining about the functionality of modern phones, but the pace of battery technology hasn’t kept up with all the other features that have been packed into smartphones.

From Carleton University in Ottawa, electronics PhD student Atif Shamim has developed a method for improving battery life in mobile phones by wirelessly connecting the antenna. Wireless energy transfer isn’t a new idea, dating back to the work of Nikola Tesla, but this is a novel new application of the concept.

The invention involves a packaging technique to connect the antenna with the circuits via a wireless connection between a micro-antenna embedded within the circuits on the chip.

“This has not been tried before — that the circuits are connected to the antenna wirelessly. They’ve been connected through wires and a bunch of other components. That’s where the power gets lost,” Mr. Shamim said.

He estimates his module consumes 12 times less power than the traditional, wired-transmitter module. It is also much simpler in design, lowering the overall cost of any hand-held device, he said.

Last month an article on the research was named the best paper at the European Wireless Technology Conference, and will be published in an upcoming issue of Microwave Journal (which, incidentally, is where I get most of my recipes from). Other applications for wireless energy include wireless charging, wherein you could simply place a phone on a charging mat, no cables required.