The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Better Mobile Phone Batteries, Please

The push to find applications for plastic electronics seems to have missed the need for better battery life in mobile phones

1 min read

I have expressed my dismay in the past with the odd fascination that Nokia and Cambridge University have with flexible mobile phones, and in particular their much publicized Morph phone concept.

This past week a number of news outlets have picked up on the annual update we get on the progress of this research. I particularly like this one because of the number of video interviews provided.

There is one video in particular that caught my eye and that is the one on a flexible supercapacitor. See below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/v/yfb0K-KKPjU?fs=1&hl=en_US expand=1]

What took me a bit by surprise was the speaker, Piers Andrew, highlighting the idea that this supercapacitor would be excellent for enabling much more powerful flashes in flash photography. I certainly understand that supercapacitors are ideal for short bursts of energy like a camera flash, and that the field of making flexible supercapacitors is a fairly new one, so the pride of the Cambridge researchers is no doubt deserved.

But again I ask, is there anyone at the research team who uses a mobile phone? The issue that makes me want to throw mine against the wall is that the battery seems to have the life span of a nanosecond. I don’t want my phone to wrap around my wrist or take better flash photography at night from greater distances, I want mine to have enough power to go a month without having to recharge. Will anyone listen?

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan
LightGreen

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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