Norwich discovery will see your battery last longer and cost less

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:46 16 February 2019

Dr Romanov tests the particles. Picture: Archant

Dr Romanov tests the particles. Picture: Archant


Breakthrough research taking place in Norwich has found the cure to short mobile battery life, over-heating handsets and expensive contracts.

Dr Alexander S Romanov (Royal Society University Research Fellow). Picture: ArchantDr Alexander S Romanov (Royal Society University Research Fellow). Picture: Archant

The University of East Anglia’s Dr Alexander Romanov and Professor Manfred Bochmann have discovered a method of using molecules found in gold to increase efficiency in mobile phone screens.

The properties found in gold means that – instead of the traditionally-used iridium – energy used to light up the screens is spent only for that purpose, instead of also producing heat.

This could see a phone’s battery lasting up to four days without being charged, as well as bringing down the cost of screen-tech due to the greater availability of materials.

Prof Bochmann’s discovery began the research: “I had a grant from the European Research Council to look into the properties of gold – and we discovered that when mixed with certain compounds, glows.”

Dr Romanov joined the project and the pair patented the finding in 2015, when they applied and were accepted to the Norwich Research Park’s Translation Fund.

A year later they were awarded a global patent.

Three years on, and the team has just secured funding in excess of $1m from a screen-developer in the Far East.

“Screens are in every car, airplane, home. It’s in every person’s pocket,” said Prof. Bochmann.

“The potential of this finding is huge,” added Dr Romanov. “This could have a huge societal impact because the people who usually couldn’t afford an OLED TV or a smartphone would be able to, because the absence of iridium would bring the prices down.”

The pair are now working with material experts to see whether energy can travel through polymers hosting the gold particles – resulting in screens which can bend and potentially stretch.

“These are what we call electric skins,” said Dr Romanov. “Because the compound can emit light, people in the industry are looking into whether it can respond to touch. We could have workout clothes which flash green when we do a move right and red if wrong – your guess is as good as mine as to how far this can go.”

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