Samsung research arm has successfully synthesized a “graphene ball” that can be used to make lithium-ion batteries last longer and charge faster, the company has said. Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) said using graphene ball material to make batteries will increase their capacity by 45 percent and increase their charging speed by five times.
Current lithium-ion batteries take an hour to fully charge but this will be reduced to 12 minutes with the new tech, Samsung said. The breakthrough could help to extend the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries while new alternative technologies are under development.
Using a technique detailed in the Nature journal this month, SAIT managed to engineer a 3D graphene structure by adding silicon oxide nanoparticles. Under initial tests, Samsung found the graphene ball batteries lasted 45 percent longer and recharged five times faster than regular cells without the technology. As an added advantage, the cells are usable up to temperatures of 60 degrees Celsius.
This extends the applications of the batteries and makes them more suitable for use in large-scale devices such as electric cars. Charge retention is also good at 78.6 percent after completing 500 recharge cycles. Retention performance was not significantly affected by temperature variations.
Since first being developed over 25 years ago, lithium-ion batteries have become the power source of choice for the mobile gadgets now critical to our lives. However, they’re less suited to emerging forms of technology, including electric vehicles and even next-generation smartphones. The continual consumer demands of simultaneously higher capacity and faster charging are difficult to achieve using regular lithium-ion manufacturing techniques.
Graphene ball batteries could offer improved battery performance in the interim years before a true lithium-ion successor emerges. Several research efforts are already underway to find a more versatile alternative, offering longer-lasting smartphones and a path to new device categories.
The 2016 Galaxy Note 7 fiasco raised additional concerns over conventional batteries following the many instances of the phablet catching fire last year, which resulted in the ultimate discontinuation of the product. This June, local media in South Korea reported that Samsung Group’s battery-making division was allegedly close to manufacturing solid-state batteries for smartphones and tablets.
The company has filed patents in the United States and South Korea for graphene ball technology, but there is no indication when or if it will reach a consumer product.