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OSU researchers helping develop faster electronics

Do you want your cell phone battery to last longer? Researchers say they are on track to make that happen. Engineers at Ohio State University have helped designed a new kind of diode that can transmit more electricity than any other of its kind. The new diode could create faster, more efficient electronics.

Paul Berger, professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics at the Ohio State University, says that circuits are becoming increasingly complex - and that's slowing things down.

The key, Berger says, is to simplify the electronics. It's not easy. Engineers have been experimenting for years with ways to combine conventional electronics with devices called tunnel diodes.

A diode is an electronic device that allows current to flow in one direction only. It is generally made out of semiconducting materials - materials that can conduct electricity under some conditions but not others. This allows the electrical current to be controlled. Berger says that what limits the speed and performance of a circuit is how quickly it can send signals from one side of the circuit to the other, and perform all of the computation that is required. If you reduce the number of devices, he says, you've reduced the number of wires needed to connect them all - and, he adds, there's another effect, "If you reduce the number of devices, you reduce the power consumption that is going to be required so it'll draw less current and battery lifetimes will increase."

For more on the story, click the Listen icon to hear WOSU's Carolyn Gramling's report.