Experimental New Design Could Lead to 100x Longer Battery Life
A new research project has come up with a way to potentially extend battery life by up to 100x the current style of batteries.
A new research project from the University of Missouri is working on a new type of battery that could help to improve battery life in portable objects – and not by a little, by as much as 100x.
Each year, manufacturers of portable electronics offer new and more powerful devices. The computing power of handheld devices is incredible and increasing all the time, but portable devices have a limitation that manufacturers haven’t quite been able to overcome: the battery life.
Modern portable devices might be powerful enough to run an air traffic control tower, but unless they are plugged in all the time they would probably only be able to really show off their power for a few minutes before the battery was drained. New advancements have introduced ways to charge faster than ever before and new materials have helped to keep the battery as small and efficient as possible, but there’s only so far our current batteries can go. The new experimental battery would be a new way of looking at an old problem.
The research is being overseen by Deepak K. Singh, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Missouri. Singh’s team is currently experimenting with a magnetic material featuring a unique honeycomb-like structure, capable of storing and releasing up to 100x more energy than a standard battery. The research is still relatively early, but it is promising.
“Semiconductor diodes and amplifiers, which often are made of silicon or germanium, are key elements in modern electronic devices,” said Singh. “A diode normally conducts current and voltage through the device along only one biasing direction, but when the voltage is reversed, the current stops. This switching process costs significant energy due to dissipation, or the depletion of the power source, thus affecting battery life. By substituting the semiconductor with a magnetic system, we believed we could create an energetically effective device that consumes much less power with enhanced functionalities.”
The experimental battery’s honeycomb structure is created using a nanostructured two- dimensional material, made by depositing a magnetic alloy, or permalloy, on the template of a silicon surface. The material conducts current in one direction only, and is less dissipative compared to current batteries. Using a magnetic diode also allows the battery to use new magnetic transistors and amplifiers that don’t dissipate much energy.
Simply making a battery more efficient might not seem like a revolutionary change, but the new materials and structure are so efficient that it could increase battery life by a hundred-fold. As an added bonus, it would also decrease the heat generated by portable devices.
“Although more works need to be done to develop the end product, the device could mean that a normal 5-hour charge could increase to more than a 500-hour charge,” Singh said. “The device could also act as an ‘on/off switch’ for other periphery components such as closed-circuit cameras or radio frequency attenuators, which reduces power flowing through a device. We have applied for a U.S. patent and have begun the process of incorporating a spin-off company to help us take the device to market.”
Battery life may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it is a major limiting factor in the ongoing development of certain types of technologies – and not just in smartphones, but any device that relies on a battery charge, including electric cars and even some houses. Finding ways to significantly increase battery life could also lead to improved emergency generators and countless other improvements in fields like robotics.
The University of Missouri isn’t the only group looking to upend the modern battery, but if this is th elevel of competition, within the next few years we may see a huge jump in battery life, and with it, technology.