While smartphones, smarthomes and even smart wearables are growing ever more advanced, they're still limited by power. The battery hasn't advanced in decades. But we're on the verge of a power revolution.
Big technology companies, and now car companies that are making electric vehicles, are all too aware of the limitations of lithium-ion batteries. While chips and operating systems are becoming more efficient to save power we're still only looking at a day or two of use on a smartphone before having to recharge. That's why universities are getting involved.
We've seen a plethora of battery discoveries coming out of universities all over the world. Tech companies and car manufacturers are pumping money into battery development, and with races like Formula E adding pressure to improve, that technology is only going to get greater.
But while we've been writing about these developments for years they still haven't made it to our phones. This is because everyone is waiting for the perfect replacement before making the jump. That, and commitments to current batteries thanks to manufacturing techniques that cost a lot to change and existing deals for minerals being hard to break.
Things are starting to change though, so we've collected all the best battery discoveries that could be with us soon. From over the air charging to super-fast 30-second re-charging, you could be seeing this tech in your gadgets sooner than you think.
Lithium-air means using oxygen as the oxidiser, rather than a material. The result is batteries that can be a fifth of the price and a fifth as light as lithium-ion, plus they could make phones and cars last five times longer.
The new discovering was made at Dallas University and should help push developments in lithium-air forward. Of course, like a all research, this could still be five to ten years away from becoming a reality.
The Bioo is a plant pot that harnesses the power of photosynthesis to charge your device, be it a tablet or phone. This already exists and can be bought now.
Bioo offers two to three charges per day at 3.5V and 0.5A via a USB port that's cleverly disguised as a rock. The pot uses organic materials that react with the water and organic matter from the plant's photosynthesising. This creates a reaction that generates enough power to charge gadgets.
This is just the start, imagine entire forests harnessed in this way. Not only could cities be powered with 100 per cent green energy but there could be yet another reason to protect plants and trees.
Great minds over at the University of California Irvine have cracked nanowire batteries that can withstand plenty of recharging. The result could be future batteries that don't die.
Nanowires, a thousand times thinner than a human hair, pose a great possibility for future batteries. But they've always broken down when recharging. This discovery uses gold nanowires in a gel electrolyte to avoid that. In fact these batteries were tested recharging over 200,000 times in three months and showed no degradation at all.
This could be ideal for future electric cars, spacecraft and phones that will never need new batteries.
Scientists have discovered a way to harness magnesium for batteries. This means smaller, more densely packed units that won't need shielding. In the long run that should mean cheaper batteries, smaller devices and less reliance on lithium-ion. Just don't expect to see these appear soon as they're still in the developmental stages.
Solid state batteries traditionally offer stability but at the cost of electrolyte transmissions. A paper published by Toyota scientists writes about their tests of a solid state battery which uses sulfide superionic conductors. All this means a superior battery.
The result is a battery that can operate at super capacitor levels to completely charge or discharge in just seven minutes - making it ideal for cars. Since it's solid state that also means it's far more stable and safer than current batteries. The solid-state unit should also be able to work in as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius and up to one hundred.
The electrolyte materials still pose challenges so don't expect to see these in cars soon, but it's a step in the right direction towards safer, faster charging batteries.
A new fuel cell has been developed that could mean phones only need to charge once a week and drones stay airbourne for over an hour.
Scientists at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea have, for the first time, combined porous stainless steel with thin-film electrolyte and electrodes of minimal heat capacity. The result is a battery that's more durable and longer lasting than lithium-ion.
Development for phones, drones and even electric cars is expected to follow the announcement. Since it's South Korea we may even see it in the next Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone.
Graphene batteries are the future. One company has developed a new battery, called Grabat, that could offer electric cars a driving range of up to 500 miles on a charge.
Graphenano, the company behind the development, says the batteries can be charged to full in just a few minutes. It can charge and discharge 33 times faster than lithium ion. Discharge is also crucial for things like cars that want vast amounts of power in order to pull away quickly.
The capacity of the 2.3V Grabat is huge with around 1000 Wh/kg which compares to lithium ion's current 180 Wh/kg. The best part of all this is that these batteries should be ready to go by mid way through 2016.
Scientists at Rice University have made a breakthrough in microsupercapacitors. Currently they are expensive to make but using lasers that could soon change.
By using lasers to burn electrode patterns into sheets of plastic manufacturing costs and effort drop massively. The result is a battery that can charge 50 times faster than current batteries and discharge even slower than current supercapacitors. They're even tough, able to work after being bent over 10,000 times in testing.
Sodium-ion batteries, that use salt, have been used in laptops following the creation of a prototype by the French network of researchers and industrial firms called RS2E.
This battery uses a standard that means it can be placed in laptops and even work in electric cars like the Tesla Model S.
The exact method of build and how it works are being kept secret but the 6.5cm battery can manage 90 watt-hours per kilogram, making it comparable to lithium-ion but with a 2000 cycle lifespan, which should be improved.
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