A New Lithium Battery In The Works Will Ensure Our Smart Gadgets Stay On Longer Than Ever

- Jul 26, 2017-

We all know that our smartphone batteries are a constant cause for concern. And for the longest time, they haven't really improved.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in everything from mobile devices to Tesla’s electric cars and more, all thanks to their high energy capacity. However, the technology is currently reaching the limits of its progression; the threshold beyond which it’s not possible to improve the amount of energy you can store and retrieve from one of these batteries. That’s where researchers from the Rice University in Texas come in.

The scientists at RU are working on a known issue with lithium-ion batteries called ‘dendrites’. These are microscopic lithium fibres that form on the anodes of these batteries during the charging process, steadily growing and spreading over time Once these dendrites reach the battery’s other electrode, they can cause it to short circuit and stop functioning, and sometimes even catch fire.

The Rice University team is working on a solution to eliminate these dendrites, by using a unique type of anode. A two-dimensional graphene sheet  is grown over the anode, and then a network of carbon nanotubes is grown over this. This way, the researchers can effectively halt the growth of dendrites, and prolong the battery’s life, even letting it hold up to three times more energy than current day lithium-ion batteries.

“Lithium-ion batteries have changed the world, no doubt,” says the study’s lead, James Tour, “But they're about as good as they're going to get. Your cellphone's battery won't last any longer until new technology comes along.”