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A New Kind of Energy Storage Device Can Be Charged In Less Than 30 Seconds

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Posted March 7, 2018

The researchers on the hybrid aqueous battery project. Il Woo Ock, left, and Jeung Ku Kang. Image credit: KAIST

Lithium-ion batteries are some of the most familiar batteries available to use, but researchers are working on other kinds, too. While doing so, they keep consumer needs in mind and explore how new ideas could positively change the way people power the devices they use every day.

Recently, researchers from Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) came up with an energy storage device they say can charge up in under 30 seconds.  The battery’s design features anodes made from polymer chains, along with sub-nanoscale metal oxide cathodes placed onto graphene.

Other Battery-Related Investigations With Graphene

People who stay abreast of emerging technologies associated with batteries have likely come across mentions of graphene before since other entities are looking at ways to use it to boost charging capabilities.

For example, engineers at Samsung developed a battery that charges five times faster than lithium-ion batteries on the market, or in as few as 12 minutes.

Graphene is strong and highly conducive, and those are two of the many reasons why it’s a material of interest to scientists who study power sources, as well as other applications.

Targeted Improvements Make Better Batteries

Going back to the more recent development, the battery that charges in under a minute is an aqueous power source. Those typically are limited by problems with energy loss and anode deteriorations, but scientists formulated new materials and structures in their innovative design to overcome those challenges.

Also known as an aqueous hybrid capacitator, this device enables electrodes to store energy electrochemically as electrostatic charges.

The scientists put an electrode in between an anode and cathode they built in the lab. Both of them feature the previously mentioned graphene material. Whereas the anode includes polymer chain materials, the cathode has nickel oxide nanoparticles stuck into the graphene.

Could People See Better Smartphone Batteries Soon?

Smartphones have become so essential in individuals’ lifestyles that many people can hardly imagine going even an hour without them and start feeling stressed when their device batteries begin getting low. If the lithium batteries mentioned earlier become ready for mainstream use, people could become more productive with their phones as well as less frustrated.

Scientists are also studying different types of self-charging power sources, like those that get energy from the sun or use a piezoelectric material to cause a mechanical to chemical energy conversion. In one experiment, it was possible to charge a battery while walking. Considering the amount of time many people spend on their feet each day, piezoelectric batteries show similar promise to the fast-charging aqueous kinds.

The research team notes that the aqueous batteries could be particularly advantageous for use in smartphones. That’s mainly because they do not require a high power charger and could get replenished with something as readily available as a USB switching charger or a solar cell.

The Korean researchers’ achievement was not the only publicized attempt to make batteries that charge in less than a minute. In 2014, an Israeli company called StoreDot stumbled upon biological materials that could be used for charging batteries while researching Alzheimer’s. The researchers found naturally occurring chains of peptides that can store charges or give off light.

In a demonstration, those scientists brought a nearly depleted battery back to full power in less than half a minute, and it’s notable that the battery in question was for a smartphone, the Samsung S4. However, that setup required attaching a prototype battery called a NanoDot, which was approximately the size of a brick.

It’ll be interesting to see if this newer advancement is more practical for today’s frequent smartphone users. Even outside of smartphones, the problem of batteries that don’t last long enough is a frequent one.

However, the Korean scientists are confident their innovation is an eco-friendly option that’s stable, offers high capacity and is easy to make compared to similar batteries available to use.

If all those things are true, those batteries seem fit for wider adoption, which could lead to permanent changes in the ways people power their gadgets.

Written by Kayla Matthews, Productivity Bytes.

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