There’s little doubt about the biggest barrier remaining in the smartphone industry – it’s those pesky batteries. The latest high-end devices need more power to run all those lovely features and keep those increasingly large screens on the go. The trouble is, battery technology doesn’t seem to have been keeping pace with everything else. Batteries are big and bulky and they don’t last for long enough.
LG Chem, the chemical division of LG, has come up with a new flexible lithium-ion battery in cable form. It can be twisted and even tied in knots, which paves the way for batteries to be wound around the outside of smartphone screens, or even worn as a separate component. That means smartphones could be thinner than ever before and would allow some of the flexible display designs we’ve seen to become a reality.
The science bit
LG Chem has created these new batteries by coating thin strands of copper wire in a nickel and tin alloy which creates the anode. By twisting the strands around a rod, a spring is created and aluminium wire is wrapped around it. It then gets coated in lithium cobalt oxide to create the cathode. An outer layer for protection is followed by the application of an electrolyte into the middle of the spring and the result is a flexible battery with the same voltage and energy density as a normal smartphone battery.
They won’t be ready for a while
LG has conducted tests and apparently managed to power an iPod Shuffle for 10 hours using just 25cm of battery. Before you get too excited, we have to point out that LG’s aim for mass production is 2017.
You can see the technology in action in the video below. The potential for designers to think up great ways of using it is obvious. The sooner we can get improved battery technology, the better.