Mobile devices are an inseparable part of modern lives. Be it mobile phones or gaming systems or e-readers or laptops. All of these devices essentially need a power source. This clearly shows that batteries not only play a major role in our lives but they also govern our lives to a great extent. But, developments in battery technology haven’t been keeping pace with the rate of development of the hardware that they power. Recently, Chinese scientists came up with ideas that could increase the power storage capacity of batteries.
As far as battery technology is concerned, there are two main areas of concern that need to be improved:
- a) The speed with which power can be delivered to an electronic device.
- b) The amount of energy that the battery is capable of storing.
In case of lithium-ion batteries, the increase in size of the battery usually provides for more storage space for energy. But, lithium-ion technology has lower theoretical capacity as compared to the newer, battery technologies which are not much explored as of now.
Nanostructured electrodes are capable of holding more lithium ions and hence they store more energy without any considerable increase in the size of the battery. However, these electrodes have a drawback. Such batteries are prone to get damaged due to pulverization. Pulverization is the swelling up of the battery due to its discharge cycles. There would be a drastic increase in the storage capacity of these batteries if they could survive this damage.
A method of preventing pulverization has been devised by a team of researchers of the University of Science and Technology, China. This technique makes use of a graphene-like substance.
How it works:
Sheets made of cobalt oxide are used. These sheets have almost the same thickness as that of an atom. The properties of this substance are similar to the properties of graphene and hence it can be considered an analog of graphene. These nanosheets are responsible for increasing the surface area of the storage capacity. Also, they make electron transfer considerably easier.
This nanosheet technology is only in the early stages of development. As a matter of fact, the researchers haven’t been able to decide which material to be used in developing these nanosheets.
Even though cobalt oxide sheets have given fruitful results, researchers are still considering possibilities of getting better results. The research team feels that there are other graphene analogs that are worth exploring as they are likely to have high energy storage potential.
Future of this technology:
Unfortunately, these nanosheet batteries do not have a very promising future in the consumer market. Stefan Freunberger, an energy storage capacity researcher and expert from the University of Technology, Austria finds the approach of the Chinese researchers fairly innovative and interesting but her also believes that this technology is difficult to be used for consumer products. With the developments in battery technology, the lithium ion battery is believed to have lived its course. Battery technology has moved away from the limitations and constraints of lithium ion batteries.
There is scope for improvement in this battery technology approach. The researchers at the University of Science and Technology feel that it is more convenient and faster to work on improving an already existing technology than to invent a completely new technology altogether. This is believed to be the quickest path to giving our phones and tablets a longer battery life.