Jul 29 AT 4:14 PM Nick Sarafolean 6 Comments

Researchers at Stanford discover the key to better battery life

LG G3 (30) (JPG, Resized)

Researchers from Stanford University have unlocked a potentially game-changing discovery in the world of batteries: stable lithium anodes. As smartphones continue to advance, batteries remain woefully behind. Thus, larger batteries are simply added to every new smartphone. But this latest news brings a new hope for batteries by transforming a traditional lithium-ion battery into a full-blown lithium battery.

Batteries are made of three major pieces: electrolytes, anodes and cathodes. Electrolytes contain positively charged ions that travel through to the anodes, which send them out to connected devices. The cathode serves the purpose of bringing the positive ions back into the circuit. There’s more complexity to batteries, but that’s the general overview.

Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail. It is very lightweight and it has the highest energy density. You get more power per volume and weight, leading to lighter, smaller batteries with more power.Yi CuiStanford University

Modern smartphone batteries use lithium-ion technology, meaning that lithium is used as the electrolyte. This increases power over other designs, but there’s room for potential. Battery efficiency could skyrocket if a lithium anode was put into place. Such a switch would seem simple, but lithium anodes have traditionally been unstable. While charging, lithium ions rapidly expand around the anode, causing serious damage to the battery circuit. Not only that, but lithium anodes can react too quickly with the electrolyte, rapidly draining the electrolyte of power.

A team of Stanford researchers led by Professor of Material Science and Engineering Yi Cui took the problems to heart and got to work solving them. The team found that implementing an interconnected dome of tiny carbon domes solved the above problems by shielding the anode. Carbon is not only extremely stable but also flexible, allowing it to “breathe” with the lithium during normal usage.

Galaxy Nexus Battery

Before the new battery technology can become commercially viable, it has to prove that it’s stable and reliable. The efficiency standard for commercial batteries is 99.9 percent over as many cycles as possible, generally tested over 150-200 cycles for practical purposes. Previous lithium anode batteries reached a mere 96 percent efficiency with a major drop-off after 100 cycles, but this new technology brings a full 99 percent level of efficiency even through over 150 cycles. Levels aren’t quite enough for commercial viability, but the improvement is astounding.

Further work is needed on the technology, but what we’re seeing is the potential for battery life to triple within the next couple years as this technology becomes stable enough for commercial use. Such a technology could solve the age-old problem of devices simply getting larger batteries, which leads to an overall larger device size. Be patient, because better things are on the way.

Via: Droid Life

Source: Phys

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @Zricon15.

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