While some users feel the pain of power-hungry smartphones more than others, the truth is that a majority of the smartphones currently available lack an impressive battery life. As the industry continues to evolve, it seems we may finally begin to see technology that can prolong battery life, without compromising any features of the device.
Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a lithium-ion electrode that will supposedly allow conventional Li-ion batteries to hold a charge 10 times greater than current technology. If true, the electrode could theoretically add significant battery life to many of the phones today.
“We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion battery’s charge life by 10 times,” said Harold H. Kung, lead author of the paper, in a statement released by the university. “Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today.”
Kung’s team claimed to eliminate or marginalize the fragmentation of the battery that is caused during charging by sandwiching clusters of silicon between grapheme sheets. Normally, electrons moving from the electrolyte into the anode charge lithium-ion batteries, with current anodes being made of graphene, which allows one lithium atom per six carbon atoms. Due to its ability to allow four lithium atoms per one silicon atom, Silicon has been considered a superior medium for building batteries, though silicon tends to contract and expand significantly during charging, resulting in battery fragmentation. In addition to sandwiching the silicon and graphene, Kung’s team also “drilled” 10 to 20nm holes in the sheets to speed up the recharging process, claiming by as much as ten times.
The team hopes to develop an electrolyte that can be shut off under high temperatures to prevent fires or explosion, then later reversed, according to the university, with their next step being to improve the cathode and electrolyte.
In related news, Qualcomm believes it may have the technology to enhance battery life with its interferometric modulator display (IMOD) technology, which create various colors through the interference of reflected light, promising to deliver power consumption a tenth or less of that of a comparable LCD.
For years Qualcomm has tried to commercialize the technology under their Mirasol brand, after acquiring the technology in 2004, though it has yet to appear in volume in any mobile device. Qualcomm demoed Mirasol at CES, announcing plans to launch a 5.7-inch eReader this year, though the project was ultimately axed, with the company focusing on the next version of the techonology.
It appears the new Mirasol displays will have much faster response times suitable for HD video, better color production and a backlight for when ambient light is not present to illuminate the screen. The company is investing almost $1 billion to build a new factory in Taiwan, which is schedules to come online in mid-2012, to product Mirasol displays at a large scale. If things turned out as planned for Qualcomm, we could be seeing the first Android smartphones and tablets with Mirasol displays in the second half of 2012.
Check out the demo video below of Mirasol technology and let us know what you think in the forums.