New Method To Give Smartphone Batteries Longer Life

Posted: Oct 24 2016, 2:44am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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New method to give smartphone batteries longer life
This is an illustration showing the procedure to fabricate the trilayer electrode. PMMA is used to protect lithium and make the trilayer electrode stable in ambient air. PMMA is dissolved in battery electrolyte and graphite contacts with lithium to compensate the loss due to reduction of electrolyte. Credit Yuan Yang, Columbia Engineering

Researchers have developed a new method to increase the energy density of lithium (Li-ion) batteries used in smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics -- a discovery that can improve their performance by 10-30 percent.

Yuan Yang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Columbia Engineering, built a tri-layer structure that is stable even in ambient air, which makes the battery both long lasting and cheaper to manufacture.

When lithium batteries are charged for the first time, they lose anywhere from 5-20 percent energy in that first cycle.

"Through our design, we've been able to gain back this loss, and we think our method has great potential to increase the operation time of batteries for portable electronics and electrical vehicles," said Yuan.

His method lowered the loss capacity in state-of-the-art graphite electrodes from 8 per cent to 0.3 percent and in silicon electrodes, from 13 percent to -15 percent.

Yang's group is now trying to reduce the thickness of the polymer coating so that it will occupy a smaller volume in the lithium battery, and to scale up his technique.

"This three-layer electrode structure is indeed a smart design that enables processing of lithium-metal-containing electrodes under ambient conditions," notes Hailiang Wang, assistant professor of chemistry at Yale University, who was not involved with the study.

The work was published in the journal Nano Letters.

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