A new version of a lithium-ion battery developed by researchers at the University of Illinois could drastically improve the way we are able to power mobile devices and even vehicles. They claim that the technology will produce ten times the amount of power in the same amount of space and can be recharged 1,000 times faster than current batteries on the market.
Smartphones have trained consumers to accept that a reasonable battery life for their devices is a full day of use. We expect to be able to send and receive email and picture messages, plus stream music and video, and still have enough battery life for a few voice calls and only run out of juice the moment we are ready to plug it in at our bedside when we turn in for the night.
Research team leader William P. King, professor of mechanical science and engineering, commented that battery technology has thus far lagged behind the other parts of devices that have been successfully downsized.
“This is a whole new way to think about batteries,” King said in a press release. “A battery can deliver far more power than anybody ever thought…This is a microtechnology that could change all of that. Now the power source is as high-performance as the rest of it.”
The new batteries are able to harness large amount of energy and power due to a unique structure designed by the engineering team. The statement on the paper describes how Professor King and grad student James Pikul designed the unique and powerful new battery:
The batteries owe their high performance to their internal three-dimensional microstructure. Batteries have two key components: the anode (minus side) and cathode (plus side). Building on a novel fast-charging cathode design by materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun’s group, King and Pikul developed a matching anode and then developed a new way to integrate the two components at the microscale to make a complete battery with superior performance.
Other devices that will benefit from the tiny new batteries are not limited to smartphones. There are new possibilities for medical devices such as hearing aids or other sensors that might have cumbersome battery packs. However, the new batteries may not be on the market for some time, as VentureBeat points out. The next step for the team is to study affordable solutions for materials and manufacturing.