Incidents of batteries that catch fire, swell, or even explode happen regularly. Samsung wants to prevent them with a new type of solid-state battery that’s not only fireproof, but also flexible and resistant to mechanical shocks. Samsung SDI, the conglomerate’s battery making division, showed off the new technology at a trade show in South Korea.
The new type of battery contains a solid electrolyte, instead of the liquid electrolyte that’s found inside most Lithium-ion batteries currently on the market.
So, why are current batteries susceptible to accidents? The lithium ions that move through the liquid electrolyte when the battery is charging can cause the formation of metal deposits on the electrodes, which can lead to short-circuits. Moreover, liquid electrolytes can leak and burn, which is something that you obviously don’t want to happen inside a tightly packed piece of electronic equipment.
Solid electrolytes are more stable, don’t leak, and are not prone to the formation of metal deposits that can cause short-circuits.
Unfortunately, the new technology is not ready for primetime. Samsung still needs to find a way to make the lithium ions move through a solid electrolyte as efficiently as they move through a liquid.
Samsung SDI estimates that it will be able to create solid-state batteries that can match the energy density of conventional designs by 2015. A beneficial side effect of the solid electrolyte is that the battery can flex and bend, which makes it ideal for curved phones (hopefully some that are more advanced than the Galaxy Round) and wearable devices.