Tripled battery capacity coming soon

Tripled battery capacity

If you are tired of hearing that all to familiar beep or buzz as you mobile phone warns you of its critical battery status then there may be good news ahead in the not too distant future.

Our smartphones, tablets and other wearable tech are hungry little power consumers and this situation has only got worse in recent times. We have seen a trend of devices that have ever larger screens on which we browse the internet, stream movies and TV and use them as a viewfinder for built-in cameras.

Add onto this power needed to run Wi-Fi, 4G, GPS, Bluetooth and NFC and you may well be considering a battery change or charge in the middle of the day.

Spare lithium battery

Battery saving modes have however been developed to ease at least part of this problem. By shutting down asynchronous processor cores that aren’t be used and closing apps running in the background you can in an emergency retain enough power to make or receive a call before you instigate a recharge.

But what if there was a battery with a tripled or quadrupled capacity?

Lithium anode batteries

A paper recently published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology describes a new technique that brings us one step closer to creating stable pure lithium anode batteries.

The basics - A battery is made up from three basic components which include an electrolyte that provides electrons, an anode for discharging those electrons and a cathode that receives them.

Lithium

The batteries we use today are lithium ion batteries and these include an electrolyte that is made from lithium but the anode is not.

If the anode was made from pure lithium then there would be a huge increase in efficiency because lithium is extremely lightweight and has a very high energy density. This would result in more power per volume and weight which would allow manufacturers to create longer lasting batteries or smaller batteries.

The problem with lithium anode batteries

There is however a problem with pure lithium anode batteries that has been so difficult to solve that many researchers had simply given up on research in this field.

  • Highly chemically reactive - Lithium anodes are highly chemically reactive with the batteries electrolyte. An unprotected lithium anode will expand hugely and unevenly during charging. This leads to cracks from which ions are lost and these short-circuit the battery and reduce its lifespan dramatically.
  • Heat - Lithium batteries overheat easily and this can lead to exploding batteries or fires, which is something we hear reported in the media from time to time.

The solution: Nanospheres

Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a technique that solves many of the problems with pure lithium anodes.

The team coated the anodes with a honeycomb of carbon domes that measure just 20 nanometers thick.

They call this coating a nanosphere and it is just 1/1000th of the thickness of a human hair.

Battery standby

However this carbon nanosphere is uniquely strong and flexible which allows it to protect the anode and electrolyte from creating those unwanted side effects.

Although there is still work to be done the pure lithium anode battery once again appears to be upon the horizon.

The big question now is will manufacturers want to use this new tech to create devices with increased stamina or to create devices that are incredibly slim or small, something that wearable tech fans will most certainly want to see.

Written by: Michael Brown

XS SM MD LG