Samsung is back on track this year with two gorgeous Android phones: Galaxy S8 and Note 8. But last year, the worldwide recall of Galaxy Note 7 made a dent in their public image. An investigation revealed that the culprit were faulty batteries that overheated and blew up. Such disasters could be avoided in the future, researchers believe, if the components of the batteries change. Their suggestion? Water-based ones #hardwaremagic
A team led by Chunsheng Wang, an engineer at the University of Maryland, came up with Aqueous Li-Ion Batteries. Do you know how lithium-ion batteries (the ones used in smartphones) have electrolytes that move ions between electrodes? Well, these are made from organic chemicals and those chemicals are the ones that heat up and ignite at the most inopportune moments.
But, researchers say, if those chemicals were replaced by water, we’d have a whole different scenario on our hands. Now, this in itself is not a breakthrough; water has been considered as an alternative before, only it never gave the battery as much power as the standard composition does. Until now, that is. Wang’s team has managed to create a better design, one that can generate the same amount of power as the chemical batteries of today, so around four volts.
This new design takes into account the rapid degradation of electrodes in contact with a water-based electrolyte. So, the electrodes are protected by that effect with a special coating.
Before we actually see smartphones shipped with that hardware, there’s one tiny problem to solve. Unlike typical batteries, that can be used for a minimum of 500 cycles, this water-based ones last for 70 cycles, at the most. So, even though they’re safer than the batteries used now, they last very little time, not enough to justify a replacement.
We can only hope that the team is going to perfect their product in the next couple of years for the sake of smartphone owners everywhere.