Getting a bit more than a day out of a phone battery these days is an achievement on a par with navigating a city centre without being accosted by a charity street fundraiser. But a new breakthrough by researchers at Stanford University could lead to smartphone batteries capable of lasting twice as long on a single charge as the current generation of cells.
They've managed to create a pure lithium anode, a feat that's eluded engineers for years. A standard lithium ion battery, the kind found in the majority of rechargeable gadgets today, is made of three parts: an electrolyte which produces electrons, an anode to discharge the electrons and a cathode that holds onto those electrons. Though lithium is in the electrolyte, it's not in the anode of a standard battery as it's usually too volatile to work correctly or safely. But this new build manages to pull it off, allowing for a higher energy density than is otherwise possible, and a battery that won't decay as quickly either.
As well as devices that can run for a few days without crying out for a power socket, the breakthrough could lead to far thinner gadgets than are available today with battery life comparable to what's currently on offer, as well as more affordable electric cars that don't require batteries the size of a suitcase to get some decent mileage. [Phys.org, Nature via Engadget]