A Next Generation Blog

Forget Li-Ion, Al-Ion is the future

Researchers at Stanford University have built an aluminium ion-battery that charges in minutes. Yes, you read it right! If there is any issue scaring smartphone users worldwide, it is, as you might have experienced the ever shrinking battery life.

Gone are the glory days of Nokias running days on a single charge. Mobiles are becoming so power hungry that even a 3000 mAh battery isn’t enough to keep it powered for a day. Being tethered to a socket defeats the very purpose of owning a “mobile” phone. Of course, you do wish to have a battery that charges in a minute and lasts days. Well, scientists have taken a stride towards materialising your humble wish.

The ubiquitous lithium-ion battery, used in today’s gadget has its shortcomings – cost, charging times and longevity. The aluminium ion battery promises to solve all the three, a dream come true for the users. Aluminium is much much cheaper that the rare Lithium. It gives ultra-fast charging times and lasts for several thousand charging cycles before any noticeable performance degradation starts to show off. It is a lot safer too – it won’t explode when tossed into a fire or neither if you drill a hole into it. Trying so with your smartphone battery is… strictly not recommended!

Every battery consists of a cathode and a metal anode. Chemical reactions inside the cell, chemically connected through an electrolyte generate the electricity across the battery terminals. The Al-ion battery employs a aluminium anode in place of Lithium and a graphite cathode. The whole thing can even be packaged into a flexible plastic bag, thus being the perfect choice of wearables.

However, it’s still a prototype. It produces a voltage of 2 volts, less than the 3.7 required by your regular smartphone. Scientists believe this can be overcome by improvising the cathode. Research is still on it. It can be expected that this tech is on production in a few more years.

Beside batteries, there is also much interest in super-capacitors that charge in seconds. Whatever it is, in not-so-distant-future, you just plug in the charger and zoom! Battery charging complete.

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