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Sony is planning to extend smartphone battery life by as much as 40%, as revealed in a recent report published by Nikkei Asian Review.
Normally, the battery of a smartphone is more often than not based on lithium-ion, and barely manages to survive for a day, usually running out after just a few hours hours of continuous use.
The vast majority of handheld devices incorporate lithium cobalt oxide, which provides plenty of energy, but can pose certain risks when the battery suffers a short-circuit. For instance, the gadgets can overheat severely, producing toxic smoke or even exploding or combusting.
Other types of equipment, such as medical instruments or electric tools, rely on lithium manganese oxide, lithium iron phosphate or lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide.
These compounds, which have also been employed so as to power electric vehicles, are considered to be much safer and to have a longer shelf life, but they don’t generate as much energy.
Despite the fact that scientists have tried to create viable replacements, such as solid-state lithium-ion batteries which promise extra safety, having no short-circuit risks, or metal-air electrochemical cells which generate high levels of electrical energy, none of these devices have caught on so far.
Now, Sony engineers are planning to render the traditional lithium ion batteries obsolete, although they were the ones who developed and helped commercialize them in the first place.
Their objective is to introduce a new way of powering up devices, which relies on a sulphur-based substance instead, either in conjunction with lithium or in combination with magnesium, which is much more easily accessible and affordable.
Apparently, such battery cells could have the same size as their mainstream counterparts, and yet have a much more satisfying capacity, estimated to be approximately 40% higher than anything currently available on the market.
For instance, as researchers point out, the latest iPhone 6s could run continuously for as long as 14 hours, while keeping an active Internet connection.
In an alternative scenario, developers could make batteries of much more diminutive proportions (approximately 30% smaller), while keeping their effectiveness at their present-day level, thus paving the way for powerful gadgets tinier than ever before.
Scientists have also succeeded in eliminating a potential drawback that they encountered during trials. Batteries operated by sulphur tend to have a dwindling, albeit remarkable capacity, their power decreasing with each subsequent charge, as the electrode is damaged by the liquid electrolyte.
However, once a different type of active electrolyte was created, it was possible to maintain the battery’s power, irrespective of the number of times it was being recharged.
At the moment, Sony researchers are conducting further studies so as to determine if this new type of sulphur-based battery can meet safety standards, and eventually enter large scale production.
Experts at the Japanese tech conglomerate headquartered in Minato, Tokyo hope that these new ways of powering devices will be widely commercialized by 2020.
The ultimate aim is to for these power units to become mainstream products, boosting the capacity of millions of smartphones across the world.
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