Smartphones that need daily charging could become a thing of the past, if a recent study is anything to go by.
Published in the journal Nature, the research suggests that the development of lithium-oxygen batteries could finally pave the way for longer-lasting smartphone power. For many, this lack of battery life is one of the key gripes with the technology.
In some ways, battery life is the last major problem to overcome in the smartphone market. Everything from software to handset design has been coming on in leaps and bounds for years, with batteries unable to keep up with the increasing demands on their power – which is why phone batteries these days tend to fade so quickly.
This new technology could solve the problem by revisiting an old idea. Lithium-oxygen batteries have been theorised before, but until now the lithium superoxide was thermodynamically unstable.
According to the new research, this problem has been solved by using a graphene-based cathode to stabilise the crystalline lithium superoxide, and could result in a smartphone battery that lasts five times longer than those currently in use.
In an official statement, co-author of the study Larry Curtiss said: “This discovery really opens a pathway for the potential development of a new kind of battery.
“Although a lot more research is needed, the cycle life of the battery is what we were looking for.”
So, even if further research bears fruit, these kinds of batteries won't be used in phones for a while yet.
This is not the only hopeful news of improved battery life to surface recently. Just last month, Japanese site Nikkei revealed that work is underway at Sony to create a phone battery that could last 40 per cent longer than the lithium batteries used in handsets today.
This would be a sulphur battery, which, like the lithium-oxygen battery, hasn't been possible previously due to technical issues. With the sulphur battery, the issue is that with each charge they dissolve electrodes – a problem that Sony seems to have successfully countered with an electrolyte solution.
However, again it seems consumers will have a while to wait before these make their way into handsets – assuming further testing proves them to be successful.