Every year phones and laptops are getting thinner, but battery life seems to have stalled. But if you look at your smartphone and sigh while wondering what increased battery life would be like, there's new hope: a prototype "lithium-oxygen" battery could potentially store five times the amount of energy you find in the lithium-ion battery in your current smartphone.
The prototype battery is described in the weekly science journal Nature, which describes challenges in development. Lithium superoxide has been difficult to fabricate due to it being "thermodynmically unstable." If that sounds terrifying to have in your phone, fear not; the study explains that "crystalline LiO2 can be stabilized in a Li–O2 battery by using a suitable graphene-based cathode."
In other words, these batteries shouldn't make your phone get too hot in your pocket.
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"This discovery really opens a pathway for the potential development of a new kind of battery," said Larry Curtiss, one of the study's researchers, in a press release from the Argonne National Laboratory. He went on to explain that more research is required, but the cycle life on the new battery is promising.
The researchers say that this new battery system doesn't require any extra oxygen from the environment, which in turn should make them stable, safe and economical.
Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Science.
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