Graphene the wonder material improves battery life:
We have talked about smartphone battery life issues in various articles, ranging from one big moan to a guide on getting the most from your devices puny little battery.
But now we are hearing that the wonderful material the we wrote about ages ago called Graphene could end up being a smartphone battery saviour, as well as its material of choice in years to come.
What is graphene?
Improved battery life for smartphones – the holy grail:
It has been quite the challenge to ensure that our beloved mobile devices can keep up with the amount of power that we bestow in them, and where “moores” law dictates that things can get smaller and smaller and quicker and quicker, the law of the “li-ion” does not follow suit, so having a laptop inside a thimble with quad core processing makes for one particularly pathetic thimble, apart from the five minutes that it can open up iTunes in two seconds flat and play Angry birds for mice in 3D. Yes, it looks pretty cool for a while, but alas they never last!
Now when you hear of people playing down the issue of battery life, ask yourself this, would you rather it improved or happy that it stayed the same?
You see there is only one answer to that, and where I can safely, and happily say that my smartphone screen should stay the same size, the battery life does need improving.
Smartphone battery charge time increased by a factor of ten?
Taking a look at a TechCrunch article from back in November that I totally missed, it would appear that a professor at Northwestern university called Harold Kung has devised an ingenious way of utilising the wonder material that is graphene and integrating it into the structure of li-ion batteries in order to increase both the charge capacity and charge speed of this type of battery.
They key is in the way Graphene is layered in between the lithium ions, as the ions move across the layers of graphene, the speed in which this occurs directly relates to the speed that it can charge.
Helping to accelerate this process the professor decided to poke millions of tiny holes into the graphene layers of around 10-20nm in size, this helped to provide a “shortcut” for the ions to travel. Which in-turn helped to charge the battery ten times quicker than normal cells would be able to achieve.
Smartphone battery capacity extended:
So not only has professor Harold Kung found a way to speed up the charge time for li-ion batteries, he then went on to mess about with some more concepts and test the results out.
The second of which increased the overall capacity of the battery by another factor of ten, meaning that you could almost get a full week from one charge if these were to be rolled out as production battery sets.
And the key to this achievement was the fact that graphene is so malleable, and so avoided negative effects of the silicon expansion issues that beset earlier attempts to achieve similar results.
Essentially, what is needed to increase the capacity of li-ion batteries is to be able to insert small clusters of silicon in between each graphene slice which allows more ions to collect and gather at the electrode end, increasing capacity, the fact that graphene and silicon are malleable helps this process work.
“Now we almost have the best of both worlds, we have much higher energy density because of the silicon, and the sandwiching reduces the capacity loss caused by the silicon expanding and contracting. Even if the silicon clusters break up, the silicon won’t be lost.”
The downside is that the charge capacity and speed of charge degrades sharply after 150 charges, but as was pointed out, you are pretty much well into your second year of use at that point as the charge lasts so long anyway.
This is seriously great news for device manufacturers who right now need to work on ways to improve their smartphone battery life until this kind of technology becomes affordable, and practical and is present in every single phone sold.
I look forward to this time indeed!Anthony Munns