Batteries, perhaps the most un-advanced components inside a smartphone. The biggest and the only con we’ve had switching from feature phones to smartphones has always been battery life. Even though the size of the batteries has increased significantly over the years, the battery still only lasts through a day in the good cases. And then they take hours to charge completely even with all thee impressive fast charging standards.
The long hours that your smartphone takes to charge may soon become a thing of the past, as scientists have developed a new process to make electronic devices charge in seconds. This new process for creating a supercapacitor battery concept can store more power and can be recharged more than 30,000 times. The method can be used in mobile phones, electronic gadgets and electric vehicles.
It looks like a thin piece of flexible metal that is about the size of a finger nail, would allow you to charge your smartphone in only a few seconds. And even better, you wouldn’t have to charge it again for at least a week, according to Nitin Choudhary, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
Normal lithium-ion batteries begin to tire within a few hundred charges. They typically last between 300 to 500 full charge and drain cycles before dropping to 70 per cent of their original capacity. It is uncommon for a lithium-ion battery to withstand more than 1,500 charges before it fails, the Florida researchers claimed. Other estimates put the life-cycle of batteries currently on the market at a maximum of 7,000 charges.
To date supercapacitors weren’t used to make batteries as they’d have to be much larger than those currently available. But the Florida researchers have overcome this hurdle by making their supercapacitors with tiny wires that are a nanometre thick. Coated with a high energy shell, the core of the wires is highly conductive to allow for superfast charging.
These supercapacitors would also stop the ‘old phone dying fast’ problem, where phones hold less and less charge after 18 months or so as the battery begins to degrade.
But before you get too excited, please note that the technology is still in an early development phase. It is not ready for commercialization yet and probably won’t hit the market anytime soon. This isn’t the first breakthrough in battery technology that we’ve seen and probably won’t be the last.
While the potential for our phones is exciting (because who can get through a day without charging anymore?), if the team can make these supercapacitors even more efficient, it could also help to revolutionise electric vehicles.
Right now, electric cars are great, but even the most efficient models have to rely on heavy, slow-charging batteries. If those batteries were replaced with equally efficient supercapacitors, they could be charged in seconds, and would be much lighter.
This new method hasn’t reached that level just yet, but the team says that it has the potential to be tweaked further. The team is now working on patenting the technique. Their work has been published in ACS Nano.
So what do you guys think? Is this the breakthrough battery technology, or will it flop like others have in the past?