Samsung's next-gen tech could spawn smaller, supercharged batteries

Samsung researchers have found a way to make silicon a more viable material for future lithium-ion batteries.

Let's face it: batteries suck. The only reason battery life is getting better is because everything else in our devices is getting smaller. That allows manufacturers to make more room for the dang power pack without having to improve anything but the efficiency of the software.

This situation may soon change, however. A team of researchers that includes mostly Samsung-affiliated scientists claim they have found a way to make next-generation lithium ion batteries carry more energy than current batteries even after the 200th discharge cycle. The group recently published their findings in Nature.

The key to the new batteries is silicon, which is a great material for anodes (the electrode through which a battery's electrical current flows) because it can hold a larger charge than graphite-based anodes. Scientists have been talking about silicon anodes for years, and some li-ion batteries are already using silicon because of its larger capacity.

The problem is that when you charge an li-ion battery, you have to insert lithium into the silicon. That causes the anode to expand by as much as 400 percent, according to Nexeon, a company that also works on silicon-based anodes.

The silicon shrinks back to its normal self once the battery discharges, but you need to provide more space in the battery to allow for the silicon's increase in volume with each charge. Plus, that repeated expansion and contraction causes silicon to break down over time. Once that happens, the material loses conductivity and the battery is done--and in a much shorter time frame than current li-ion tech.

To get around the expansion issue, Samsung's researchers say you can take that silicon and grow some carbide-free graphene on it as a coating. This coating helps counteract the expansion, and keeps the silicon intact for a longer period of time. This means you can end up with a smaller battery with a greater capacity than current technology, as first reported by PC Perspective.

The impact on you at home: The Samsung-funded paper makes the technology sound promising. The authors claim the graphene-coated silicon anodes allow for charging densities that are 1.8 times greater than current li-ion batteries on their first charge. By the 200th charge, those anodes are still holding 1.5 times more volumetric energy density than what we have now.

Just don't count on seeing a Samsung battery like this anytime soon. For now, this is just a research paper, but the paper's authors are hopeful this new technique "can serve as a prototype in advancing silicon anodes to commercially viable technology."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags BatteriesPhonessamsungComponentsBatteries / fuel cells

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?