Samsung has developed a new technology that nearly doubles the capacity of current lithium-ion (Li-On) batteries. With help from researchers and universities in South Korea, the tech giant has devised a solution for extending battery life on a nanoscale by using anodes made of silicon instead of graphite.
The use of silicon in Li-On batteries has been widely researched but, before now, using silicon as the active material has posed significant problems. The volume of silicon drastically changes through charge-discharge cycles, which can lead to weakened battery life cycle energy density.
According to a paper published in Nature, Samsung and its researchers have developed an innovative coating process, whereby graphene is grown directly on layers of silicon. The graphene contains the silicon, while also allowing for its expansion.
“The graphene layers anchored onto the silicon surface accommodate the volume expansion of silicon via a sliding process between adjacent graphene layers,” explains the report. “When paired with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide cathode, the silicon carbide-free graphene coating allows the full cell to reach volumetric energy densities of 972 and 700 Wh l^(-1) at first and 200th cycle, respectively, 1.8 and 1.5 times higher than those of current commercial lithium-ion batteries.”
In theory, these new batteries could allow a device that would normally have a 13-hour battery life to go 24 hours without a charge. This breakthrough could have a big effect on more than just smartphones. Electric cars and all consumer electronics – including wearables and virtual reality – are in serious need of improved technology, and could greatly benefit from this advancement in battery life.
Since this development is the result of a research project, no commercial products using this new technology are commercially available as of yet. The public will likely have to wait a couple of years before these batteries are used to power everyday devices.