Next generation laptop batteries

Lithium BatteryYou know the feeling.  You’re right in the middle of something important on your laptop.  You’re in deep concentration and nothing should interrupt you. Then all the sudden… [BEEP].  That dang battery warning. It seems like you just barely charged the thing.

Laptop batteries are what make laptops so amazing.  But at the same time, they seem to be the first thing to degrade on your brand new laptop.  Even if you forked out the extra money for a 12 cell battery and you can work for a full 4 hours without a charge, it never seems like enough.

Well, in a few year that will all change.  What do you think of 40 hours of use in one charge?  A new breakthrough in battery technology will provide 10 times the amount of stored energy.  And your battery won’t degrade as quickly either. So what was the big breakthrough?  Nanotechnology to the rescue!

For 30 years, rechargeable batteries have been based on graphic anodes (the storage units for batteries) and scientist have been working on improving the graphic anodes.  But a group of scientist from Stanford decided to try a new type of anode.  By leveraging nanotechnology, they now store the lithium in tiny forests of nanowires with diameters no larger than one thousandth the thickness of a piece of paper.

Previously, the anodes would enlarge with lithium (when charging), and shrink during discharge. During this cycle, the graphite anodes would fracture — reducing the capacity and destroying the battery over time.  The nanowires enlarge to four times their normal size as they soak up the lithium, but they don’t fracture at all during their cycle, thus providing much better performance and longevity.

So within a few years, not only your laptops will work better, but also your iPod, digital camera, etc.  The hard part will be waiting for this technology to hit the commercial markets.

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