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Will quantum physics make smartphones a lot smarter?

Will quantum physics make smartphones a lot smarter?

Posting in Science

Peratech, a UK-based technology company, has licensed its Quantum Tunneling Composite technology to a unit of Samsung. The move could signal smarter handsets that can navigate on the amount of pressure applied to a touchscreen.

Peratech, a UK-based technology company, has licensed its Quantum Tunneling Composite technology to a unit of Samsung. The move could signal smarter handsets that can navigate on the amount of pressure applied to a touchscreen.

In a statement, Peratech said Samsung Electro-mechanics will include its Quantum Tunneling Composite (QTC) technology in pressure sensing components for smartphones. See a backgrounder on the science.

Peratech's QTC switches allow electronic currents to be controlled by the pressure of touch. Typically, these currents are set to just turn on or off. With Peratech's technology more current flows based on the pressure applied. Scrolling through a list or playing a game may go faster depending on how hard a button and its underlying switch is pressed.

The BBC explains the QTC technology this way:

The composite works by using spiky conducting nanoparticles, similar to tiny medieval maces, dispersed evenly in a polymer.

None of these spiky balls actually touch, but the closer they get to each other, the more likely they are to undergo a quantum physics phenomenon known as tunneling.

Tunneling is one of several effects in quantum mechanics that defies explanation in terms of the "classical" physics that preceded it.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure