Smartphone News

A Potential Revolution in Smartphone Battery Life?

battery-lifeIt is not uncommon for battery life to be the nadir of modern smartphone design. Even the top smartphones on the market right now, the Apple iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy devices, can be drained of their battery life rapidly through intensive use. Since most of us need these devices to last through a work or school day, running out of battery power remains a concern among the majority of smartphone users.

However, the days of carrying along an extra charger just in case may be nearing their end. A recent Forbes article highlighted the so-called “Holy Grail” of cellphone battery power, a new device improvement that could theoretically expand the battery life of your favorite mobile device to 400 percent of its current capacity.

Up To 400% More Battery Life?

The concept for the new battery comes from researchers at Stanford University, who have published their findings in the Nature Nanotechnology scientific journal. The article details the development of a new lithium anode that could feasibly be a much more efficient means of mobile device battery life than current lithium ion batteries.

In fact, the Stanford researchers involved in the experiment said that the anode they developed could be used to develop batteries that were not only more powerful than the current industry standards, but smaller and lighter weight as well. Given the ongoing trend toward smaller, thinner devices, this development will undoubtedly be greeted with rapturous reception.

How It Works

So why are lithium anode batteries able to triple or quadruple the power capacity of current lithium ion batteries? To understand why the anode developed by Stanford is so superior, we need to take a look at the drawbacks of the standard lithium-ion batteries used in virtually all mobile electronics today. These batteries charge and power devices through the use of three components: an electrolyte, an anode, and a cathode. The electrolyte stores and provides the power, the anode channels it into the device at hand, and the cathode receives it from a charging cord.

Lithium, which is the so-called “Holy Grail” of battery power that Stanford’s researchers highlighted in their report, drives the entire system. In modern lithium-ion batteries, the lithium is found in the electrolyte portion of the battery reaction. The anode, meanwhile, is made up of other materials like graphite, and while those materials get the job done for powering your mobile device, they do not do it more efficiently. By developing a “pure lithium anode,” as Stanford’s researchers have now done, smartphone manufacturers could make batteries that are three or four times more efficient at harvesting and channeling electrons, which would in turn lead to longer lasting batteries.

A Development a Long Time in the Making

The idea of using pure lithium anodes in rechargeable batteries is nothing new. Engineers have known for years that such a design would greatly increase battery efficiency and power. The problem is that lithium ions expand considerably in size during a charging cycle. Scientists, therefore, have feared that if they were located in the anode such lithium ions would lead to bursting batteries that would, at best, hamper the ability of the battery to hold a charge and, at worst, lead to leaking chemicals.

The key breakthrough of the new Stanford report is that researchers have apparently found a way to create a pure lithium anode that won’t burst, won’t leak chemicals, and won’t lose its charge efficiency. Of course, further testing and peer review will be necessary before these anodes make their way into market mobile devices, but if all goes well, mobile device users could be noticing dramatically extended battery capacities in just a few years.