Most of us use our mobile phone multiple times a day and some people seem to be permanently attached to their smartphones. With immediate access to a variety of services such as voice calls, text messages, and on newer models, internet access; do we ever consider just what is going on inside our mobile phones to allow all of this to be possible?
Every mobile phone user considers the battery life of their device a high priority. No one wants their mobile phone to die in the middle of an important call. Mobile phones today mainly use a lithium ion battery to provide power to the device. These batteries tend to use lithium cobalt oxide as the positive electrode in the battery, whilst the negative electrode is formed from carbon in the form of graphite. It will also have an organic solvent to act as the electrolytic fluid. The battery itself is usually housed in an aluminium casing. The battery is protected whilst inside the phone but once removed is surprisingly fragile and can be easily broken if dropped.
Most modern mobile phone models make use of some aspect of touch screen technology; with many getting rid of the traditional keyboard altogether in favour of the touch screen. Touch screens are mainly manufactured from aluminosilicate glass which is a mixture of aluminium oxide and silicon dioxide. This is then placed in a hot bath of molten salt which makes smaller sodium ions to leave the glass and larger potassium ions to take their place. When the glass cools, these potassium ions are pressed together this produces a layer of compressive stress on the glass which increases its strength and resistance to damage. To allow it to function as a touch screen, a thin, transparent, conductive layer of indium tin oxide is placed on the glass.
The circuit board in a mobile phone is probably the most important part of the entire device. The circuit board controls how every other component works, it transforms digital signals to analogue, and vice versa and also is responsible for functions such as vibrate functions and alerts to incoming calls. The chip is the main processor of the phone and is made from pure silicon. As silicon does not conduct electricity it is often mixed with other elements which do.
The micro-electrical components and wiring in the phone are composed mainly of gold due to its ability to conduct electricity quickly. Copper and silver are also used but gold is the preferred metal of choice in most mobile phones. Solder is used to join electrical components together which use a combination of tin, silver and copper. All of these materials are essential, so its vital mobile phones are recycled or sold on to keep these materials being sent to land fill and polluting our environment.
Microphone, speakers and antenna
The microphone and speaker of the phone both contain magnets, which are usually neodymium-iron-boron alloys, though dysprosium and praseodymium are often also present in the alloy. These are also found in the vibration unit of the phone. The antenna is the portal through which the phone is linked to other phones. In most phones it is a coil of wire attached to a removable cover that is easy to break.