will we be able to charge smartphones in just ten minutes?

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How long does it take to charge your smartphone? One day it could take just ten minutes, say researchers at the University of California Bourns College of Engineering, who have developed a new lithium-ion battery architecture that’s faster to charge, smaller and more powerful than existing batteries.

The researchers say the technology makes it possible to build batteries up to 40 per cent lighter and smaller than those used inside today’s mobile devices, but capable of carrying up to 63 percent more battery charge.

This is because they have used silicon to supplement the graphite currently used in Li-ion battery anodes. Silicon promises a total charge capacity ten times higher than graphite, so coating the carbon-based anode with silicon boosts battery efficiency, as described in this paper. Wei Wang, lead author of the paper, claims the team’s new battery anode tech should receive charge up to 16 times faster than existing batteries.

fertile area of research

This isn’t the only research project exploring new efficiencies in battery technology. The booming market for smartphones, tablets and other connected devices is driving innovation in the sector. Here are a number of other projects that are attracting attention:

  • Stanford University researchers have developed technology to enable a pure lithium anode, which could improve battery capacity by up to 400%, according to former US Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu.
  • A University of Alberta team is researching its own inexpensive lithium-ion battery technology it claims can offer between five and eight times more battery power than available in currently available batteries.
  • Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a sponge-like form of silicon that could enable batteries to safely hold ten times as much energy as presently possible.
  • Apple and UK firm, Intelligent Energy, are researching a highly efficient fuel-cell technology that converts chemical energy into electricity to create batteries that could keep iPhones and iPads running on a single charge “for days”.

It’s clear that the momentum in this area of research is continuing to build and scientists are confident that we will soon see significant breakthroughs in the development of new battery technologies designed to support future generations of small, light and long-lasting mobile devices.