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MADISON, Wis. - University of Wisconsin scientists have reportedly had a breakthrough in using very small technology to extend the battery life of some electronic devices, according to a Wisconsin Public Radio article.

Carbon nanotubes, that are impossible to see with the naked eye, are great conductors of electricity, but researchers have had trouble with tangles in them and metallic impurities causing electronic circuits to short out, according to the article.

Recently, however, a UW team succeeded in attaching molecules called polymers to the conducting nanotubes to eliminate the shorting problems, the article said. Professor Michael Arnold told WPR the tiny tubes could be useful in replacing the silicon in computer chips, or lead to longer-lasting batteries in cellphones.

“In your cellphone, there is a chip that will amplify a high-frequency signal and then transmit that to your cell tower. And it's possible to make more efficient versions of these chips by using carbon nanotubes versus the current state-of-the-art materials. So basically you have less power consumption by using better electronic materials,” Arnold told WPR.

Arnold said the biggest hurdles left include being better able to reproduce the technology and scale things up.

The work was patented through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the researchers are working with companies to accelerate the technology transfer to businesses, WPR said. The National Science Foundation, U.S. Army and other agencies funded the research.

Research breakthrough could extend cellphone battery life

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