Industry News

Ten Times the Capacity from Li Ion Batteries?

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Researchers at the Northwestern University claim they managed to increase both charging capacity and speed of lithium ion batteries by 10x-- potentially pointing to the future of mobile power.

Li IonLi ion batteries are not only found in most mobile devices-- from mobile phones to laptops-- but also in electric cars and even "exoskeleton" robots.

Current Li ion batteries create charge by moving lithium from one end of the battery to the other (from anode to cathode), and recharge through the sending of ions from electrolyte to the anode. Inside the batteries are layers of carbon-based graphene sheets, in which lithium ions are "packed."

The new process involves making millions of tiny holes in the graphene sheets (each 10-20nm in size), creating a "shortcut" for ion movment. In addition, the team also sandwiches small silicon clusters between each graphene layer, allowing the increase of lithium ion density-- whereas x6 carbon atoms can accomodate 1 lithium ion, 1 silicon accomodates x4 lithium ions.

The researchers say charging capacity and speed does fall sharply after 150 test charges, but "after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today." They believe the technology can become commercially viable within 3 - 5 years, following work on an electrolyte system shutting down the battery automatically at high temperatures.

Go Better Batteries (Northwestern University)

EU Growth Forecast: "Growth at a Standstill"

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One can describe the Autumn EU economic growth forecast with a single word-- austere. The title "Growth at a Standstill" is bad enough, and the EC report says the going might get even worse.

EU MapIn a few words-- EU GDP will stagnate into 2012, while 2012 EU growth is forecast at around 0.5% before reaching 1.5% by 2013. Inflation will return to below 2% and unemployment will remain at around 9.5%.

Recession risks are not negligible either.

The Eu forecasts annual 2012 GDP growth will reach 0.6% in EU and 1.3% in the euro zone. No member state group will escape the slowdown despite varying growth differences.

Public finances will eventually improve-- but only gradually.

The main drivers of 2011 inflation, energy prices, are set to gradually decrease, with headline inflation falling back below 2% in 2012. The EU expects wages will only grow "moderately," while persistent slack in the economy continues holding back underlying price pressures.

The report lists 3 main risks weighting down the EU and euro-area economy-- continued debt-related uncertainty, the weakness of the financial industry and sluggish world trade. Potentially, the future can go both ways, withe either slower growth or a faster-than-assumed return to confidence.

Go EU Autumn Forecast 2011-2013: Growth at a Standstill

2012: The Year of the Bendy Mobile Device?

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Nokia flexibleWhile Windows Phone-powered Nokia handset reveal was meant to be the highlight of Nokia World 2011, one unlikely demo unit at the Future Technology booth stole a fair bit of attention-- the "Nokia Kinetic Device" one can simply describe as... the bendy mobile device.

Soon afterwards, at the Samsung Q3 2011 earnings call, company investor relations VP Robert Yi says the company has plans to have mobile devices carrying flexible screens ready for launch by 2012.

Will 2012 be the year of the bendy device?


Toshiba Boosts LCD Display Pixel Counts

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Toshiba Mobile Display develops a LCD display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels within a 6.1" panel-- 498 pixels-per-inch, higher than the full HD resolution format of 1920 x 1080.

LCD Display ToshibaIt handles up to 16.7M colours, with a 1000:1 contrast ratio and 176° (or more) vertical and horizontal field of view

Such a display should be ideal for future mobile device displays, with the size seemingly developed to fit either the trend for mini tablets or a specific end-product requirement.

Toshiba says the new display can even find future applications in HD mini 3D displays, and will show he technology at FPD International, Yokohama.

Go Toshiba Develops World-class HD LCD Panel

Latest ARM Design is Both Big and Little

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"Big.Little processing" is name ARM gives to the concept behind the Cortex-A7 MPCore-- a chip for use as either a secondary processor or in low-end sub-$100 smartphones. 

Cortex-A7Designed to have as small a footprint as possible, ARM says the Cortex-A7 is one fifth the size of the Cortex-A8 processor (the single-core version measures all of 0.45mm²) and is built using a 28nm process, while being 5x more energy-efficient. 

The Cortex-A7 is designed to work in tandem with the Cortex-A15 MPCore-- with big.Little processing selecting the right processor for the right task according to performance requirement. ARM claims this system will allow for entry level devices in the 2013-2014 timeframe with the equivalent processing performance to current high-level smartphones. 

ARM Partners supporting the technology include Broadcom, Compal, Freescale, HiSilicon, LG Electronics, Linaro, OK Labs, QNX, Redbend, Samsung, Sprint, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments.

Go ARM Unveils big.Little Processing