Scientists have just figured out why phones don't last as long as they could, which could pave the way for longer lasting batteries.
If you’re frustrated by how short the battery life is on your iPhone or Android device, there’s good news. Scientists have just figured out what is preventing us from making big advances on battery technology, which could hopefully help us overcome a tremendous roadblock in the way of the advancement of mobile technology.
Scientists took atomic-level images of something called dendrites, which are finger-like growths that penetrate the barrier between battery compartments and cause them to fail. Dendrites limit the effectiveness of batteries, forcing us to charge our phones often.
Scientists used cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to fire beams of electrons at some biomolecules that had been frozen, a technique that resulted in a Nobel Prize win for the scientists behind it. Using this knowledge, we may be able to design better batteries in the future.
“This is super exciting and opens up amazing opportunities,” said Yi Cui, a professor at SLAC and Stanford and investigator with the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) whose group did the research.
“With cryo-EM, you can look at a material that’s fragile and chemically unstable and you can preserve its pristine state – what it looks like in a real battery - and look at it under high resolution,” he said. “This includes all kinds of battery materials. The lithium metal we studied here is just one example, but it’s an exciting and very challenging one.”