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Battery-saving technology rescued by Brunel

A promising new technology to make headphone and mobile phone speakers smaller and more energy efficient has a bright future thanks to a team of scientists led by Brunel researcher Dr Mark Atherton.

Using miniature piezoelectric actuators in high quality speakers for smartphones has benefits in reduced size; reduced power demand, meaning a longer battery life; and a better sound quality.

But designing the tiny piezoelectric sandwiches made up of layers the thickness of a human hair so they would work reliably proved impossible with conventional techniques.

Dr Atherton’s breakthrough now means that even the tiniest actuators can be accurately modelled and validated.

Without his work this promising technology ran the risk of looking good on paper but failing in the real world.

To date speakers using piezoelectrics have been licensed for use in more than 20 million products annually, from phones to tablet devices.