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A research team led by Mechanical Science and Engineering, Professor William P. King, at the University of Illinois is working hard to create a better and vastly more efficient high-powered lithium ion battery for your smartphone and other devices. And since battery life is the unavoidable achilles heel of our tech, this whole idea is a dream come true.
Before I go more into the science on what the research team has accomplished, I will give the fact. The team has created a battery only millimeters in length, can charge in a second (1,000 times faster than current batteries), and is powerful enough to jump start your car. Also phones themselves can gain greatly by adding a strong power supply and freed up space from the need to house current design.
So how did they do it? Well if you would like full access to article titled "High-power Lithium ion microbatteries from interdigitated three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoporous electrodes" you can purchase a copy here, but here is the breakdown.
They achieved it by redesigning the positive, (cathode) and negative (anode) poles. Usually the poles are solid, but by using three dimensional design they found they could create an extremely dense, porous, high capacity design. Then by shrinking down the poles and bringing them closer together, the battery could not only charge far faster, but also put out more energy. Various other tweaks also such as the casing materials offer additional improvements.
Now safety and costs are still an issue though. The tests of the liquid compound was used at a very small amount so the chance of explosion was negligible. However, this doesn't mean that the large scale manufacturing won't pose an issue. Then, to implement into current devices will be costly because you not only have to create large numbers of the new batteries but also get devices to back it up and generate sales.
There is still a lot of work ahead of the research team, but they have already made great strides. Other research teams around the world are also hard at work redesigning the way we power our devices and deserve attention. For example, in Texas researchers are developing a spray on power supply.