Graphene And Gold Nanowire, The Future Of Battery Tech Looks Promising


Battery life is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone. Without it, your phone’s powerful processor and fancy screen are of no use. Unfortunately, for years I haven’t seen any breakthrough in the battery technology. My phone’s camera can now compensate for shaky hands and thanks to evolving designs we get bigger screens without much increase in the overall footprint of the device. In comparison, not much has changed in the battery department. To put things in perspective, back in 2010, I used to charge Samsung’s Galaxy S every day. And after good eight years, I now charge the Galaxy S9 every day. The existing battery tech just doesn’t seem to have a very positive outlook for the future. Nobody knows this better than Samsung as Koreans tried to push it to the limits and got some “explosive” (quite literally) results with the Note 7. Don’t your heart yet though, as there are quite a few developments in the battery tech that may change the way we use our smartphones:

Laser-Induced Graphene Batteries

Scientists at the Rice University made a breakthrough in graphene micro-supercapacitor tech, which can replace traditional batteries. These graphene batteries can be charged up to 50 times faster than contemporary technologies including lithium-ion. These are made using commercial lasers to burn electrode patterns into plastic sheets to skirt the existing overtly complex fabrication process. This also bring down the manufacturing cost significantly. The researchers also claim that these laser-induced graphene batteries are flexible and demonstrate mechanical stability even after bent 10,000 times continuously. With foldable smartphones expected to be the next big thing in the smartphone space, you can expect biggies such as Samsung, Huawei, an LG invest time and money in this battery technology.

Image meant for illustration purpose.

Carbon-Ion Battery

Folks at Zap&Go have come up with a carbon-ion technology to replace the existing lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are safer to the environment compared to the highly toxic lithium-ion. Moreover, these batteries can be charged incredibly fast. The company has already built a power bank that can store 1500 mAh in mere five minutes. Zap&Go claims that its carbon-ion battery has fewer moving parts compared to the regular smartphone battery and hence can withstand 100,000 charge and discharge cycles without an issue. Its manufacturing process is quite like that of regular lithium-ion batteries, which ideally means that the manufacturers won’t have to completely rework the assembly line.

Gold Nanowire

This noble idea of improving the battery tech involves a noble metal. Researchers at the University of California have developed a process involving gold nanowires that can increase the longevity of batteries by hundreds of times. And since nanowires are smaller than the tip of your hair, you can achieve a large surface area by bundling them together. As a result, gold nanowire batteries offer higher storage capacity. The researchers claim that the gold nanowire displayed no corrosion in a test involving 200,000 recharge cycles. In comparison, the existing lithium-ion batteries generally swell-up after 6,000 to 7,000 cycles. For mass production, researchers are hopeful to replace gold with nickel to keep the manufacturing costs in check.

3D Foam Battery

American firm Prieto has developed a copper foam substrate battery with a unique 3D architecture. Unlike the conventional 2D battery surface that limits the direction and speed of energy flow, Prieto’s architecture offers higher density and power. The increase in surface area is approximately 60X. The company claims that you can even customize these foam batteries for either power density or energy density. Another advantage is that the foam batteries will be nonflammable as opposed to its lithium-ion counterpart. And of course, these batteries will be quite flexible. Priesto has already partnered with Intel for further development of this technology.