Microbatteries Could Recharge Phones Instantly

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Wouldn’t it be awesome to plug in a dead smart phone and have it fully charged in under a second? The wait won’t be long now for that leap. A team of scientists just developed what they say are the world’s most powerful microbatteries capable of near-instant recharging.

Supercharged! Battery Power for the Future

The new batteries are made high-power lithium ion and are only a few millimeters in size. IInside, they contain a 3-D nanostructure made from a thin film that was recently developed by Paul Braun from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He describes his system as providing “capacitor-like power with battery-like energy.” Graduate student James Pikul and team leader mechanical engineering and science professor William King, came up with an anode for it and then the the researchers put it all together in a tiny package. Their article was just published in the journal Nature Communications (abstract).

The scientists say their rechargeable microbatteries can charge a thousand times faster than similar technologies. In addition, the tiny size means these batteries could give a ton more capacity to smaller electronics like medical devices, sensors, lasers, and a wide range of consumer electronics.

Even Batteries are Bigger in Texas

The prospect of almost instantaneous phone recharging is impressive by itself, but the engineers also told the university that a phone powered by these batteries could even be used to jump-start a dead car battery. Then they could be fully recharged after another second. Holy cow.

As with any new battery tech, there’s still a lot of tinkering left to do before microbatteries come to our electronic devices. The team says it will be integrating their batteries with other electronics components and figuring out ways they could be manufactured affordably. I cannot wait to not have to wait for my phone to recharge.

Image: A graphic showing ions flowing between micro-electrodes in new battery tech from the University of Illinois. Credit: Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

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