It's the bane of smartphone, tablet and laptop PC owners the world over. The fanciest and most powerful technology that can be put into those products still has one large limitation: the battery. How many of us have seen our devices out of power with no electrical outlet available to use? Now researchers at Northwestern University may have found a way to increase both the charge and to decrease the charging time for lithium-ion batteries.
According to a recent press release from the university, the research centers on the battery's anode which in current batteries is made of carbon-based sheets. These sheets can only hold one lithium atom for every six carbon atoms in batteries. The Northwestern research team have found a way to make a new version of an anode via silicon. The press release states that the team have "sandwiched clusters of silicon between the graphene sheets." This allows for much more lithium atoms to be held. In addition, the clusters of silicon with graphene sheets allow for the battery charge to take less time.
In basic terms the research could lead to new lithium ion batteries that will take as little as 15 minutes to be fully charged. Furthermore, those same batteries could hold up to 10 times the charge compared to current battery designs. Obviously such technology could lead to smartphones, tablets and laptops that could run all day with continuous use. It could also make electric cars more viable. The research team predicts that batteries using their techniques could be launched in between three to five years.