Batteries that Last and Last

If youíve been complaining about your cellphone dying on you (or for that matter your laptop, portable gaming console, whatever), keep your shirt on, for a solution is at hand. Geniuses at Stanford have developed a technology that will allow your normal Lithium-Ion battery to last up to ten times its normal lifespan.

Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, is the team leader in this endeavor. If you’re wondering how a Lithium-Ion battery works, hereís a quick lowdown: Lithium-Ion batteries store ions on their anodes. The electrical storage capacity of a Li-ion battery is limited by how much lithium can be held in the battery’s anode, which is typically made of carbon. What Cui has done is to replace carbon with silicon (donít get the wrong idea, not the Pam Anderson kind; we mean the microchip kind).

Silicon can hold more charge than carbon. The problem is that silicon expands as it absorbs positively charged lithium atoms during charging, and shrinks during use (such as when playing your iPod) as the lithium is drawn out of the silicon. This causes immense wear and tear on the battery and can lead to an early burnout. You will no doubt remember the BL-5C battery scare, where this particular model expanded so much that it tended to pop out of the battery compartment. Iím sure we donít want that experience again Ė but neither do we want to compromise on the longevity of our batteries.

The new batteries that Cui is aiming to develop will have Lithium stored in a cluster of silicon nanowires. These wires have the capacity to expand up to four times their normal size when they absorb the Lithium and each of these nanowires has a diameter one-thousandth the thickness of a sheet of paper. I canít even imagine anything that small. The good thing is that with a system fashioned in this manner the silicon will have a much longer life.

“Itís not a small improvement; itís a revolutionary development,” claims Yi Cui, and I couldnít agree more. Who wouldnít want a battery that can give you an average of 30-40 hours of running time on a single charge? Even though Cui has filed a patent for this remarkable technology, it may be a while before you can have it in your mobile phone. Methinks itís definitely worth the wait.

It may not be cheap, but as the guys from IntoMobile so eloquently put it: “Who wouldnít pay a couple more bucks for a tenfold increase in battery life?” I know I would.

Information sourced from Tech2

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