We’ve at least reached the point where it’s not an understatement to say that we are reliant on our mobile devices. If our smartphones die, we feel somewhat naked.
A quick Google search for tips on how to extend a smartphone’s battery life yields more than 6 million results. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that battery life of mobile devices is a pain point for many customers.
It’s also an opportunity for shrewd engineers to solve that pain point.
Last month, researchers at Stanford University released a report stating they’ve designed a pure lithium battery that could theoretically extend the smartphone battery life by 400 percent.
“Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential,” states Yi Chi, who headed Stanford’s research team. “Some call it the Holy Grail. It is very lightweight and it has the highest energy density. You get more power per volume and weight, leading to lighter, smaller batteries with more power.”
Here Comes the Science
As it stands now, the lithium anode batteries that power our mobile devices lose the ability to charge as powerfully as when we first get them after 100 cycles. When we fork over a couple hundred dollars for a smartphone, for example, we expect that it’s going to work for quite some time.
But as we’ve all experienced, eventually, we hit a wall where our phones seemingly stop carrying their charges overnight. In situations where we are away from home and lacking a charge, it turns into a game where we try to use our phones as little as possible so as to not drain the battery. Sometimes, we might even turn them off to conserve even more juice.
But it’s 2014. Shouldn’t our phones theoretically last for days without having to charge them?
As a result of the research, we might very well be approaching that reality. The new battery developed at Stanford retains 99 percent of its charge ability after 150 cycles – a substantial upgrade from where we find ourselves today.
“In practical terms, if we can improve the capacity of batteries to say, four times today’s, that would be exciting,” said former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who was a part of the research team. “You might be able to have a cell phone with double or triple the battery life.”
Longer Battery Life and Productivity
These days, more and more business is done from mobile devices. While it may have seemed like something completely unattainable years ago, today’s reality allows us to practically run a business from the palm of our hands.
And in fact, some people do exactly that.
“Today I run my business from my phone,” explains Marc Benioff, CEO of salesforce.com. “I could never have imagined that a few years ago.”
In today’s digital world, workers are on the go or working remotely more than ever before. As a result, they need access to mobile devices that allow them to get just as much work done as they could accomplish from the confines of their office. Thankfully, the tools are there to perpetuate that productivity. But the battery technology hasn’t quite caught up yet.
It appears that is all changing.
Think about it: Never again will workers have to worry about their devices running low on juice when they are at a conference trying to follow along with a speaker’s interactive presentation on their tablets. Never again will a reporter taking notes on his or her smartphone have to worry about the phone losing juice when a city official is mid-sentence.
To sum: The longer the lives of these lithium batteries, the more productive we will all be in both personal and professional endeavors.
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