Skip to main content

Smartphone battery capacity could be increased using nanochain material

A new method could allow better materials to make up battery electrodes by converting them into a nanochain structure, the black material on this copper electrode of a coin cell. Purdue University image/Kayla Wiles

If you’re frustrated by the fact that electronic gadgets continue to get more sophisticated but your smartphone battery still can’t seem to last a full day, then new research from Purdue University could offer some relief. Chemists there have developed a new method for designing lithium-ion batteries which could make them last longer and charge faster.

The amount of charge held by a battery is dependent on the number of lithium ions it can store. Graphite is used for batteries even though other materials can hold more lithium ions because these other materials are too heavy to be practically usable. To make a more efficient battery, the researchers used an element called antimony to create a net structure called a “nanochain.”

When compared to graphite electrodes, nanochain electrodes had twice the lithium-ion capacity. And the effect lasted over the long term, as the capacity remained for 100 cycles of charging and discharging. “There’s essentially no change from cycle 1 to cycle 100, so we have no reason to think that cycle 102 won’t be the same,” Vilas Pol, one of the authors of the study and an associate professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University, explained in a statement.

Artistic depiction of a coin cell battery with a copper electrode (left) containing a black nanochain structure, which researchers have discovered could increase the capacity of a battery and cut charging time. Purdue University illustration/Henry Hamann

Similar materials have been used in the past to expand battery capacity, but these materials can be dangerous as they can expand by up to three times. “You want to accommodate that type of expansion in your smartphone batteries,” Pol said. “That way you’re not carrying around something unsafe.”

To allow for expansion of the material, the scientists applied chemical compounds including a reducing agent and a nucleating agent. These create pores within the nanochain which make space for expansion and prevent electrodes from failing. The next step is for the researchers to try scaling up the design to the size of a phone battery.

The findings are published in the journal Applied Nano Materials.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
Bentley’s first electric car could use cutting-edge solid-state batteries
2020 Bentley Continental GT coupe

By the time Bentley launches its first electric car in 2025, it will be very late to the party. So how will the august British luxury brand distinguish its electric car from existing models? One answer might be battery tech. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, CEO Adrian Hallmark said Bentley may use solid-state batteries in its first electric car. While several companies have discussed using this new battery design, none have managed to put it into production so far.

"I'm not saying we are guaranteed to go solid-state, but that is already on the radar within that mid-2020s period," Hallmark said. Proponents of solid-state batteries claim they will offer better performance than current lithium-ion batteries, which could be crucial to making an electric Bentley work.

Read more
The small cost to end child mining is not a price Big Tech is willing to pay
drc cobalt child labor tech lawsuit conflictmineral feat getty

When he visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), human rights lawyer Terry Collingsworth said he was presented with a “parade of maimed children” waiting to meet him.

“I’ve been doing human rights work for more than 35 years,” he told Digital Trends. “This was the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen.”

Read more
New battery design could mean EVs charge in only 10 minutes
ten minute charging time for lithium ion electric vehicles 492485

Anyone who has an interest in electric vehicles (EVs) knows the common knocks against them by heart: long charging times, limited range, charging station availability, and so on. To make the EV more palatable to the American public, researchers at Penn State University have had a breakthrough — reducing lithium-ion battery charging times to 10 minutes.

Lead author Xiao-Guang Yang and his colleagues published a report in Joule, a journal focused on the science of sustainable energy. There are still some hurdles to clear but the long-held dream of a practical EV on par with the convenience of a gasoline engine could be closer at hand than people think.

Read more