Samsung, working together with researchers and universities in South Korea, has managed to create a new technology that could essentially double the capacity of our Li-Ion batteries.
As our processors get faster, our screens denser and our wireless antennas send more data, there’s one piece of the modern handset puzzle that’s holding us back: woefully underperforming batteries. Back in the 90s, when our current Li-Ion batteries were invented, they were the bleeding edge of energy storage. But nowadays they seem archaic and severely lagging behind, compared to the way all our technology is evolving.
Luckily, Samsung seems to have found a way to nearly double the capacity of Li-Ion batteries, and the method could be commercially viable in the near future. What the researchers have done is use silicon, the same stuff that’s in chips and other electronics, as an anode for a new type of battery.
This isn’t exactly new, as silicon has been viewed as a potentially revolutionary material in the field of energy storage thanks to its atomic structure. But the material has one big problem that has, so far, kept it from disrupting the market: it changes size between charging and discharging cycles. As you can imagine, this is a big problem when talking about small batteries destined for mobile devices, or compact electronics.
But Samsung has developed a process to overcome this problem: the researchers managed to coat Si nanoparticles in layers of graphene. The layers, thanks to their excellent electrical and mechanical properties can slide around the Si particles and allow it to expand or contract when needed. It’s an ingenious way of ensuring that the material has all the space it needs, even while its constrained in compact spaces.
By using this technique, Samsung was able to create batteries with silicon anodes, that have almost double the energy capacity of today’s models, while maintaining size, volume and safety. In fact these new types of batteries offer 1.8x the energy density found in regular Li-Ion batteries, and 1.5x energy density after 200 charges.
Even after that many charges the battery still offers a great improvement over current models, but of course, if this tech is to take off, it needs to maintain that advantage over many more charges. If scientists can make it work, and that’s a big if, this could quickly change the way we use our devices, and even our electric cars, for the better.