Finally, an OEM Develops New Battery Technology for Increasing Power Capacity
Are you one of those who habitually whine every time smartphone manufacturers release new models that senselessly compete on specs that don’t matter. Are you one of those who wish companies spent their R&D funds on more sensible things instead of creating phones with ultra HD displays or cameras with resolutions past the already high 13MP? Well, there seems to be some positive development lately.
Higher Capacity Sans the Added Weight and Volume
Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, has finally achieved some great results in its attempts at improving battery capacity. The research arm of the Korean electronics giant has developed the technology to make a silicon cathode material that can be used to coat high crystal graphene on a silicon surface. This coating can effectively increase battery energy capacity to nearly twice that of today’s standard lithium batteries. Most of the lithium batteries in current use are still based on the technology developed and commercialized by Sony in the 90’s. Over the decades, these batteries have achieved a capacity increase of only around 2x compared to their predecessors from around three decades ago. If Samsung successfully commercializes this new tech, it will mean a considerable leap in commercial battery technology in just a matter of years.
To emphasize, what Samsung has achieved is something centered on efficiency. Once the tech is made ready for commercialization, it means batteries that are of the same size but capable of packing higher amounts of power. This means iPhones as well as Galaxy and Xperia flagship phones can have “bigger” batteries without losing their sleekness and slimness. This means that the world’s thinnest phones can have decent battery life while keeping their bragging rights for thinness. This means that the Galaxy S6 can have more than 4,000+ mAh of power while keeping its 6.1 mm profile or that the iPhone 6 can have a 3,500+ mAh power cell without having to alter its looks.
How It Works
This new battery tech from Samsung involves the use of a silicon anode, which results in greater capacity. The silicon anode is then coated with layers of graphene to improve its density and longevity. Even over a decade ago, the use of silicon electrodes has been known to have the effect increasing capacity by up to ten times. However, silicon is too brittle that using it will result in fragile, easy-to-damage, or risky batteries. Researchers have been trying to figure out how to use silicon electrodes on batteries while keeping the batteries safe and durable enough to withstand the typical shock, bending, and other movements mobile devices usually subjected to. Here’s where graphene comes in.
As reported by Samsung’s researchers,the graphene layers attached to the silicon surface accommodate the expansion and contraction of silicon as the battery charges and discharges. Used in tandem with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide cathode, the graphene coating enables the full battery cell to achieve volumetric energy densities of 972 and 700 Wh l−1, which is 1.8 times higher than the capacity of commercial lithium-ion batteries available at present.
Those who are anticipating 4,000 mAh batteries on the successor of the Galaxy S6, however, should temper the expectations for a while. This new battery technology is still under research and it will likely take around two to three years before a commercially available version of it gets released. The battery capacity-doubling technology is now patent pending in the United States, Korea, Europe, and China.
Obviously, this new technology means highly valuable benefits for smartphones, tablet computers, laptops, media players, and other mobile and wearable electronic devices. This new technology can finally address the peskily short battery life of smart watches. It can also be used to replace the batteries used in electric and hybrid cars. It can even be used in drones to make them operational for longer periods of time without adding more weight and heft.
Samsung here is purposely referred to as an OEM or original equipment manufacturer to emphasize the fact that its new battery technology is bound to benefit everyone else since it may also start supplying batteries for other device manufacturers in the same way it supplied displays, RAM, and SoCs to other smartphone and tablet makers. Hopefully, this new battery technology gets perfected or at least made ready for commercial use soon.