A new report from the journal Science claims that a new transistor design from the University of Cambridge could tap into unused energy, allowing electronic devices to function for months or even years without a battery charge—or even a battery, reports Popular Mechanics's David Grossman.
To explain their work, Cambridge scientists use the analogy of water dripping from a leaky tap. Leakage—not of water, but of power—is a problem all transistors face. But Sungsik Lee and Arokia Nathan, both of Cambridge's Department of Engineering, have figured out how to use this leaky power.
The team has tapped into what is called the the Schottky barrier, which is the point were the metal of a semiconductor comes into contact with its semiconducting material. This allows transistors to basically run on power leakage alone.
"If we were to draw energy from a typical AA battery based on this design, it would last for a billion years," according to Lee. Nathan sees specific uses for the new transistor design in the Internet of Things, and the innovation could allow for devices that hardly ever need to be charged or plugged in.