Two years of research led to a discovery that could change Li-ion batteries forever

carbon black li ion battery research news tech
A team of students at Stanford university have made a discovery that could change lithium-ion batteries forever, leading to the cells most of us use everyday gaining more power, and charging faster than ever before, with fewer drawbacks. It’s all to do with a material called carbon black, and the amount that’s used inside our batteries.

Lithium-Ion, or Li-Ion, batteries all contain carbon black, but for years, it hasn’t been considered all that important. According to a phys.org piece on the research, scientists were never concerned about the quality or size of the carbon black nanoparticles that get mixed together with the cathode particles that make the batteries work. It was just there.

That’s the area a ten-person strong research team focused on, and after two years, came up with a surprising result. Sophie Meyer, who along with Yiyang Li, conducted a long series of experiments, and found the industry standard amount of carbon black, 5-percent, wasn’t enough for efficient operation.

By increasing the amount of carbon black used in a lithium-ion battery, charging time decreased and efficiency increased. To get to that stage, the team produced hundreds of their own batteries, all with different amounts of carbon black, and analyzed each to see how performance was affected. Meyer is working on her master’s degree in materials science and engineering, and said “it was the hardest work she ever loved.”

It was also pretty messy. She describes carbon black as “a sloppy black goop” that would have to be spread out as a 20 to 60 micron thick film, ready to be dried out. Even the mixing was subject to many different experiments, ranging from the temperature, the length of time it was mixed, and even how it was mixed. “We kept at it,” she said, “We were able to resolve a fundamental question of science.”

We all want faster charging and more efficient power delivery from our batteries, and although this research sounds like step in that direction, it’s not perfected yet. Increasing the amount of carbon black means decreasing the amount of cathode particles, which affects how the battery holds a charge. The team is now looking for the right balance between the two states.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

Get the most life out of your Xbox One controller with these tips

The Xbox One controller has fantastic battery life, but eventually your batteries will still die. To make it even better and ensure you never have to stop gaming, follow these tips.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks for the best portable chargers.
Mobile

You can now listen to Google Podcasts on your desktop without the app

The Google Podcasts app is no longer entirely necessary to listen to the podcasts it offers. With a simple tweak of the sharing URL, you can listen to a Google Podcasts podcast on your desktop or laptop without the app.
Mobile

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G might be a few short weeks away from launch

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.
Computing

T-Mobile goes after big cable companies, pilots wireless home internet service

In a shot at big cable companies, T-Mobile is launching a new pilot program to bring an unlimited wireless LTE home internet service to up to 50,000 homes across the United States by the end of 2019.
Mobile

Type away on the best iPad keyboard cases, from the Mini to the Pro

Whether you're looking to replace your laptop with a tablet or merely want to increase your typing speed, a physical iPad keyboard is the perfect companion to the iPad. Check out our top picks for every available iPad model.
Mobile

Apple patent suggests Apple Watch bands could have built-in fitness indicators

Apple may be exploring ways to make Apple Watch bands a little more useful. A new patent has been filed by Apple that suggests Apple Watch bands could eventually have indicators for things like fitness goals.
Mobile

Apple patents hint at improved Apple Store and unboxing experiences

It looks like Apple is working on ways to improve the Apple Store and product unboxing experiences. The company has been awarded a few patents, largely for tech that can be used in product packaging to ensure products stay charged.
Wearables

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Wearables

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.