Friday, November 18, 2011

The New and Improved Battery

· Battery advancements have been slow and have barely able to keep up with the other advances in cell phone technology.

· In the past advances have had to be in processor and display efficiency, in order to better use that limited store of power

· Other advances have been delayed because of the limitations of the inner workings of batteries. Inside batteries, there are innumerable layers of graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms. Batteries can only charge as quickly as the Lithium ions move from one sheet of graphene to the next. In the past, scientists have tried using silicon instead of the layer of carbon, which lead to the battery charging much faster. However, silicon is less durable and the material would expand and contract, causing it to break to quickly for the battery to be efficient.

Recently, researchers at Northeastern University claim to have created an improved lithium ion battery that not only would hold ten times as much energy, but would charge ten times as quickly. Professor Harold Kung, researcher at NU, has discovered two techniques for improving this charge process. First he decided to combine the strengths of both materials, carbon and silicon, by populating the area between the graphene sheets with silicon nanoclusters. This helped to improve the charge capacity of the battery.

2. Also they thought of perforating the graphene sheets, allowing ions to take a “shortcut” to the next layer. They call these 10-20nm holes “in-plane defects,” result is Charging is ten times faster. "Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today," says lead author Harold H Kung.

· It has been estimated that these new batteries could be on the market in three to five years. The process has changed enough that existing manufacturing techniques are likely insufficient, so it would involve a lot of previous phones and handheld gaming systems to be completely extinguished from the market. Most likely in the future, all phones will use this method or one similar. This will enable users less charging time. People will likely only have to charge their devices once a week.

· In speculation this will also enable other developments in phone technology that zap more power, things that cell phones have not previously been capable of due to power restrictions. Maybe the iphone myth of a holographic keyboard will actually come true. This tech could also lead to more energy efficient cell phones. As charging will require less time and electricity and will last longer. Eventually we might be able to find the right combination of materials to create a battery that you only have to charge every few months or once a year.

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