A type of rechargeable battery that has twice the capacity of current lithium ion batteries could be arriving in smartphones from as early as next year.
The groundbreaking new “lithium metal” batteries have been developed by Solid Energy Systems, a US company created Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“With two-times the energy density, we can make a battery half the size, but that still lasts the same amount of time, as a lithium ion battery”, said co-inventor and CEO Qichao Hu in an interview with MIT News.
“Or, we can make a battery the same size as a lithium ion battery, but now it will last twice as long”.
“It is kind of the holy grail for batteries,” Hu added.
The company said that if all goes according to plan, smartphone manufacturers will be able to use the new batteries from next year, before then being made available to electric car manufacturers in 2018.
However, Hu added that before the end of the year, the new batteries will be used in drones, enabling them to fly twice as far on a single charge as they can currently.
For use in smartphones, the new batteries offer up a few different possibilities.
The first being that the new technology could lead to units being developed that offer the same amount of battery time but are half the size of current units.
Alternatively, the batteries could be the same size but would last for twice the amount of time.
The new batteries could also be used in smartwatches or fitness trackers.
For years, laptop and smartphone manufacturers have tried to find ways of extending the capacity of batteries used in their products but been left frustrated by limitations in lithium-ion technology, which has improved only slightly in recent years, while microchips and processors have become more powerful.