Researchers in Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a lithium-ion battery that can charge up to 70% of power in a cell phone in – believe it or not – just two minutes. All it will take is the addition of a substance found in sunscreen. And if that isn’t enough, it will take 20 years of regular use before this new battery needs a replacement.
All you have to do is replace that graphite in your battery’s anode, or negative pole, with a gel made of cheap and abundant titanium dioxide, a substance that is used as an ingredient in most commercially-prepared sunscreens. This substance, capable of being stretched into nanotubes that are a thousand time thinner than hair, can speed up a battery’s chemical reactions.
Not exactly new, this techonology
The battery in your cell phone can last only for about 500 cycles of charging but this newly-developed one is capable of recharging 10,000 times. Unlike the computer chips in cell phones, lithium-ion batteries have not had much improvement in their performance. Ironically, most cell phone users observe that the feature they find least satisfying in smartphones is the battery’s life.
This battery is not exactly “new” in its entirety because the only thing the researchers did was an improvement of its existing technology. As they turned the titanium dioxide gel into nanostructures, the process apparently accelerated the charging speed. Nanotechnology in this case has been proven to be a significant factor in lithium-ion performance.
Lithium-ion batteries for electric cars?
According to Chen Xiaodong, an associate professor at NTU, nanotechnology can increase the range of electric cars with a charging time of only five minutes, equivalent to the time required to pump up gasoline for them. If and when this happens, electric cars can also be conveniently charged using lithium-ion batteries in the future.
After having their invention published in a journal called “Advanced Materials,” the researchers, in fact, have patented the technology for application on a grant that will enable them to construct a battery prototype on a large-scale basis. They are also currently studying just how much energy their new super fast-charging battery will need when used for testing on electric cars.
Economical for the user
As soon as this new lithium-ion battery trickles into commercial production, long charging periods will be obsolete. Many of the tablets and smartphones today do not allow the user to remove batteries. When these lithium-ion batteries begin to weaken in performance as they near the benchmark of 500 charging cycles, users are forced to buy replacements for them.
This battery with the 20-year-old lifespan may change the length of time that a smartphone or tablet user will hang on to either gadget, especially since the recent trend in decoupling the hardware fees which comes with subscriptions for phone services. Faster charging speed and longevity can be economical for the user since these features can reduce a two-year upgrading cycle.