5G smartphones could become up to 50 times more battery efficient with new radio frequency switching system funded by the US Army
- Army-backed researchers developed a way to make 5G less of a battery drain
- The new design uses nanomaterials to make switching between 5G and other radio frequencies for other phone tasks less energy intensive
- Early 5G smartphones have been as much as 50% more battery hungry
The US Army is funding new technology that could improve the battery performance on smartphones with 5G connections by a factor of 50.
The project was led by a team of engineers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Lille in France, with funding from the Army Research Office.
Working with a new nanomaterial design, the team was able to improve battery performance for 5G connected devices by creating a more efficient switching system as they alternate between 5G signs and other radio frequencies.
Engineers from University of Texas at Austin and the University of Lille in France received funding from the US Army to develop a new system of radio frequency switches to help make 5G phones less battery intensive
‘It has become clear that the existing switches consume significant amounts of power, and that power consumed is useless power,’ the University of Texas Austin’s Dr. Deji Akinwande said in a statement.
‘The switch we have developed can transmit an HDTV stream at a 100GHz frequency, and that is an achievement in broadband switch technology.’
In preliminary user testing, 5G phones have been especially battery hungry, with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G losing 50% of its battery power in just four hours of 5G connection, despite promising 18 hours of battery life.
The issue is partly due to the need to maintain connections to both 3G or LTE networks for basic phone functioning while also keeping a connection to more data intensive 5G signal for other data-heavy tasks.
The basic connections a smartphone maintains at any given time are governed by a system of radio frequency switches that direct which of the devices receivers to activate for a given task, according to a report in Popular Mechanics.
The current generation of 5G smartphones can be surprisingly inefficient, with Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G losing 50% of its 18-hour battery life in just four hours of 5G use
The main cause of battery drain for 5G devices is the system of switches that govern when a device should switch between Wifi, 5G, 4G, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth, or another radio signal for a certain task. The Army project uses an ultra-thin nanomaterial to make this more efficient
These switches determine when a device should switch from Wifi, 5G, 4G, 3G, LTE, or Bluetooth, and consumes small amounts of processing power and battery power to constantly shift back and forth depending on the required task.
The new Army-funded design for these sets of switches is centered around hexagonal boron nitride, a nanomaterial that’s described as the world’s thinnest insulator.
Because hexagonal boron nitride can be laid out in layers that are the thickness of a single atom, they can transfer energy much more efficiently than conventional switches.
They also work with radio signals that cover the full 5G spectrum, rather than just the low end parts of the spectrum that earlier experiments with switch efficiency achieved.
The Army say it’s hoping to apply the technology to a range of 5G compatible devices, including smart radios, satellite systems, and other ‘Internet of Things’ devices that could be used in the field.
WHAT IS 5G AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
The evolution of the G system started in 1980 with the invention of the mobile phone which allowed for analogue data to be transmitted via phone calls.
Digital came into play in 1991 with 2G and SMS and MMS capabilities were launched.
Since then, the capabilities and carrying capacity for the mobile network has increased massively.
More data can be transferred from one point to another via the mobile network quicker than ever.
5G is expected to be 100 times faster than the currently used 4G.
Whilst the jump from 3G to 4G was most beneficial for mobile browsing and working, the step to 5G will be so fast they become almost real-time.
That means mobile operations will be just as fast as office-based internet connections.
Potential uses for 5g include:
- Simultaneous translation of several languages in a party conference call
- Self-driving cars can stream movies, music and navigation information from the cloud
- A full length 8GB film can be downloaded in six seconds.
5G is expected to be so quick and efficient it is possible it could start the end of wired connections.
By the end of 2020, industry estimates claim 50 billion devices will be connected to 5G.
The evolution of from 1G to 5G. The predicted speed of 5G is more than 1Gbps – 1,000 times greater than the existing speed of 4G and could be implemented in laptops of the future