Battery-hogging, static-ridden cell phones and other wireless devices could soon be a thing of the past. Zhenqiang Ma, a University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical engineer, says he has redesigned a key electronic component in wireless devices so that it can increase the strength of outgoing signals while saving battery power. Ma has come up with a new arrangement of transistors for the power amplifier, the component that boosts the strength of an electrical signal before sending it to a device’s antenna. The new design allows for easier and more uniform heat dissipation. Since excessive heat lowers power amplification, this translates into a stronger signal and less wasted battery power; a cell-phone user could get 25 percent more talk time out of each battery charge. Ma has produced silicon chips that use his new design and is now working on versions made from gallium arsenide, the most common semiconductor for cell phones. He says his technology is ready to be licensed by a chip maker and could be on the market as early as the end of this year.
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