Researchers at the University of Southern California, led by Professor Chongwu Zhou, replaced graphite with porous silicon nanoparticles in anodes of lithium-ion batteries to come up with a new design. The battery, which could be available in two to three years, has a longer life and charges more quickly than lithium-ion batteries used now. (Source: Mingyuan Ge & Chongwu Zhou/USC)
There is a lot of innovation happening in the battery space at the moment and, in my opinion, it couldn't come at a better time. If you think about it, while so much other technology has evolved in leaps and bounds, batteries historically have been very slow to evolve yet we are still quite dependent on them to power all of our gadgets and devices. The idea of a longer-lasting battery that can recharge so quickly is a welcome innovation in this space.
Nice story, Liz. Let's hope this technology reaches its potential. Material scientists have tried many lithium-ion chemistries over the past 20 years and short cycle life has often been a problem. Lithium-sulfur, for example, has offered high energy but has had problems getting past about 50 cycles. Most automakers are looking for a minimum of a thousand cycles. Some are looking for 2,000 because they want some margin for warranties. Let's hope these engineers can do it.
Yes, it would be great if they could overcome what you note is a long-time hurdle. This would be a great invention, particularly for the future of electric vehicles and could overcome any remaining hurdles to adoption. It's good to know at least that some very clever people are looking at the problem in new ways.
Hi, Pubudu, sorry I don't know offhand that information but I will take a look at the info about the research online and see if I can find out. Here is a link to a press release about the research: http://news.usc.edu/#!/article/46778/cheap-strong-lithium-ion-battery-developed-at-usc/
I'm confused. Although the title says that a longer-lasting battery was invented, the story says "Another weakness in the design is that the battery's lifespan isn't as long as traditional graphite-based design".
Yes, you're right, TJ...tricky wording there...It depends on what you mean as longer lasting. The battery will run out more quickly but it will continue to be charged and recharged longer, and apparently they are working on the design so it will eventually be longer lasting in both respects. Sorry for the confusion...I should have worded it more clearly.
Thanks for posting this: potentially really good news. And yes, it's helpful to use two different terms for total lifespan and length of charge. In cell phone batteries, the latter is called "talk time."
Ann, I didn't know about the "talk-time" term either. Is there a standard for calculating it? I pay more attention to monitoring the battery hours on my laptop, so I know that there are a whole bunch of things that can affect that (brightness, software being run, communication devices, etc.). I would think that there would need to be a certain standard combination of those types of inputs for comparison across products.
Jack, that's not a spec or a standard, just a handle that immediately gives a picture of how long a battery charge lasts in a cell phone app, based on what the app is used for, in this case, talking. I suppose you could say "video watching time" if you had a battery-powered video player. I don't even know if the term is still in use. Back in the day I used to do the same kind of monitoring you describe on my Mac laptop, although it now comes with preset options for Battery vs AC Power, and switches automatically depending on whether it's plugged in.
Jack, I didn't think of that, but it would be a good idea to have a standard for comparison. Funny, but as important as the battery is, it seems we sometimes often forget about it when buying a gadget if we are determined to have the latest and most innovatively designed device. Or maybe that's just me!
"Talk time" is application dependent, so the same battery might have a different talk time from one application to the next. So I would imagine the best way to express it would be in the battery manufacturer's parlance -- Amp-hours -- wouldn't it?
Chuck is right, "talk time" varies from one battery brand and model to the next. Length of charge or how long charge is retained is probably the appropriate term & spec for comparison purposes. Although actual talk time, i.e., actual usage time, is shorter than how long a battery retains its charge. That's why the term "talk time" was invented: how long can you continue to use the product?
Come to think of it, Chuck, I guess amp-hours is a useful metric for general comparison purposes. I do look at that number when I'm purchasing rechargeable AA cells. Sure, manufacturer X is optimized for application Y, but it is a good starting point that is probably at least as accurate as talk hours.
The perspective of "talk time" is the user's, which is why the term was invented. Although it's therefore a "marketing" term, it gave a much clearer picture of what the challenge actually was, i.e., improve and extend the system function and therefore the user experience, something that can get lost when looking only at specs. As mentioned, that was back in the day: cell phones were used for talking only, and batteries didn't last very long, certainly not as long as users expected. These days we should also be saying "text time" as Al points out.
Recharging in 10 minutes is a very valuable feature. With smartphones, talk time seems to be meaningless in terms of how the battery is doing. The data connection is the big user of power at least for me. Maybe I'm not talking as much as others versus texting, surfing. Amp-hours is probably more accurate but definitely a tech spec in comparing models.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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