Smartphones have been used by almost most people in the world, and the market for smartphones is growing very rapidly. Researchers have created a unique lab-based technique that enables them to see inside the lithium-ion batteries and follows lithium ions moving in real-time while the battery is charging or discharging. Using this amazing low-cost technique, the researchers have successfully identified the speed limiting processes, which, if addressed, could enable the batteries in laptops and smartphones to fully charge in as little as five minutes.
The University of Cambridge researchers say their technique would not only help improve existing battery materials but could also accelerate the development of next-generation batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries have many advantages, such as long service life and relatively high energy densities compared to other batteries and energy storage devices, but they can also overheat or even explode and are relatively expensive to manufacture. Furthermore, the energy density of lithium-ion batteries is nowhere near that of petrol. So far, this has made them unsuitable for widespread use in two important clean technologies, electric cars and grid-based storage for solar energy. “A better battery is one that can store a lot more energy or one that can be charged much faster, ideally, both,” says co-author Dr. Christoph Schnedermann from the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. “But in order to make better batteries out of new materials and to improve the batteries we already use, we need to understand what goes on inside them,” he added. This requires sophisticated synchrotron X-ray or electron microscopy techniques, which are time-consuming and expensive.