June 30, 2015

Has Samsung found battery technology’s Holy Grail?

SmartIO in such a way that it is capable of transferring large amounts of different content types between devices, in a matter of minutes, conserving your battery so that your device can last longer. Of course, we are not alone in this mission. Many companies have been trying – for quite a while - to come up with ways to maximize battery life, or conserving device power, and it seems like we have reached a breakthrough. If reports are to be believed, it seems like Samsung has found the answer to our prayers. According to these reports, Samsung has developed a means of doubling the capacity of lithium-ion batteries – the powerhouses in current smartphones. The technique involves the addition of a silicon material to the existing lithium-ion layer, thereby increasing the energy-density and longevity of the device’s battery. The method involves the use of a silicon coating that supports graphene (pure carbon) growth on the battery’s silicon nanoparticles. This coating inhibits the formation of silicon carbide that disrupts the energy transfer. Test results published last week in Nature showed that the addition of the silicon layer showed to increase energy density levels between 1.5 to 1.8 times higher than current levels. Samsung’s Advanced institute of Technology and Energy Material Lab in Korea provided the manpower for the research, which was led by Hyuk Son and Jong Hwan Park. Of course, other Korean researchers of materials science also collaborated on the research. According to the research paper, Samsung is currently in the process of patenting the technology. And for anyone following the smartphone industry, the patents war is more cut-throat than any device battle. There are many reasons why battery life has been such a bane in smartphone technology. With increased number of functionalities being added to the device “features”, smartphones are now expected to perform more functions; do more, do it better and do it quick. On top of that, market demand for slimmer, more portable, lightweight devices creates a battery-functionality-form-factor balance that is difficult to accomplish. One of the first things to suffer in the equation is the battery technology, because it is a less cosmetic feature of a device. Devices are marketed on the basis of their “wow-factor”, and a slightly improved lithium-ion battery that makes the device chunkier (hence, “uglier”) is barely as glamorous as a smartphone having the best retina display, a professional camera or being the slimmest phone in the market. Fortunately, users are now becoming smarter; they understand that there is no point of having a smartphone that performs 20 different functions really well, and looks really good, but doesn’t last more than a couple of hours. Of course, Samsung is not alone in making breakthroughs in the field of materials science in general or battery technology in particular. According to a press release, in October last year, a team of scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore found a means of supercharging a battery from dead to 70 percent in less than 2 minutes. Apparently, the team replaced the graphite found in traditional lithium-ion batteries with titanium dioxide. That being said, Samsung’s new technology is going to take a while to reach the consumer market. However, it is a major development that gives us something positive to look forward to.

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