When it comes to improvements in cell phone technology, there are always going to be new apps and features coming out. Less common is a quantum leap forward in the underlying technology of handsets, but that is what scientists working at the University of Illinois may be on the cusp of achieving. Their goal? To develop an electronic circuit that can heal itself. This technical leap, if it can be achieved, could lead to a world in which, for example, dead batteries can be brought back to life.
The technology rests on the concept of capsules that are part of the circuit. These circuits would contain a liquid metal material. When the circuit lost connectivity, the capsules would know to release the precious contents, and the metal flowing out could serve to re-connect the broken circuit, making it good as new again.
Nancy Sottos, who helps to lead the scientific team exploring the technology, explained that when it comes to electronics that circuits have broken, “In general there’s not much avenue for manual repair. Sometimes you just can’t get to the inside. In a multilayer integrated circuit, there’s no opening it up. Normally you just replace the whole chip. It’s true for a battery too. You can’t pull a battery apart and try to find the source of the failure.”
Soon, though, the battery may know how to repair itself from the inside out. When it comes time to get a new phone featuring some of this revolutionary technology, do not forget to contact a cell phone recycling business so you can do the right thing for the environment.