New Battery Could Charge Phones in Seconds
On the left is a diagram of a lithium-ion battery constructed using Braun
CREDIT: Paul Braun, University of Illinois
Charging a cellphone in seconds, a laptop in minutes and an electric vehicle in the time it takes to fill it with gas. In the next few years this could be a reality, thanks to a new battery technology.
The new lithium-ion battery is just like the battery found in today's cellphones and laptops, only with a special cathode material. Unlike the chunks of metal typically used in batteries, this cathode is a metal sponge of sorts with nano-size pores and coated with energy storage material. The result: fast charging and discharging of power.
While speeding up the charge and discharge time of a battery has been done in the past, this is the first time it's been done without sacrificing the amount of energy stored in the device.
Normally, when you make things small you also don't have very much volume, said lead study author Paul Braun, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. What we've demonstrated is the ability to both store a lot of energy and deliver that energy quickly.
The researchers have made prototype batteries the size of the tiny disk-shape ones for a watch or calculator and found that they charge up and release charge in seconds. The next step will be to scale these to the size used in consumer electronics, and ultimately to that used in electric vehicles.
Braun hopes to have laptop-size prototypes in a year and a commercial product, at least in a limited quantity, in three years.
While not yet the holy grail of energy storage, Braun believes it is a giant step toward that ultimate device.
There's two things people want in batteries, Braun told InnovationNewsDaily. One is the ability to charge quickly and discharge quickly [and] the other is to store a lot of energy in a really small volume or really small weight, Braun said. And so we've done the first part ... but I would argue this is at least half of it.
The researchers detailed their findings online March 20 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
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