While processing power has jumped leap and bounds on the proverbial evolutionary scale, battery tech to a large degree has remained stagnant. Hence why the smartphones of today need a daily charge, where as the phones of 5+ years ago lasted for days at a time. But that might all start to change very soon, and you don’t need to look much further than the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the evidence.
According to researchers, they’ve developed a battery that is 2,000 times more powerful than comparable batteries. This means more power and more energy, not just more energy, or just more power. You see, the current state of battery technology largely makes energy and power mutually exclusive, hence the smartphone battery conundrum. With this new battery schema, our phones could last for days at a time without the need to keep plugging it in. Alternatively, our phones signal could be enhanced folds over thanks to the added power, though as we all know that would be a massive battery suck, something analogous to when you don’t have five bars on your smartphone’s screen. Moreover, these batteries can charge many times faster than conventional Lithium-ion batteries – up to a 1,000 times faster if the researchers are to be believed.
So how did they accomplish this feat in battery tech? It’s best that I quote Extreme Tech’s explanation, because it’s not a simple one:
These huge advances stem from a brand new cathode and anode structure, pioneered by the University of Illinois researchers. In essence, a standard li-ion battery normally has a solid, two-dimensional anode made of graphite and a cathode made of a lithium salt. The new Illinois battery, on the other hand, has a porous, three-dimensional anode and cathode. To create this new electrode structure, the researchers build up a structure of polystyrene (Styrofoam) on a glass substrate, electrodeposit nickel onto the polystyrene, and then electrodeposit nickel-tin onto the anode and manganese dioxide onto the cathode.
The bottom line is that these batteries have a much denser surface area, allowing for more chemical reactions to take place, which in turn result in more energy and power. Compared to a conventional Sony CR1620 button cell, this new battery tech is has a slightly lower energy density, but the power density is 2,000 times greater.
So where would we first see such tech applied? Likely smart devices to start, and then followed by laptops and other power hungry devices.