Scientists Developing Pure Lithium Anode Batteries: Expected to Triple Battery Backup Time in Future Smartphones
A new lithium cell phone battery prototype designed by researchers at America's Stanford University promises to offer three times the battery life offered by current smartphone batteries.

A new lithium cell battery prototype designed by researchers at America's Stanford University promises to offer three times the battery life offered by current smartphone batteries.

According to a PHYS report, scientists at Stanford University have been successful in developing pure metal anode prototypes, which differ from the current Lithium-Ion batteries.

"Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail," said Yi Cui, professor of Materials Science and Engineering and leader of the research team at Stanford University, to PHYS.

As lithium is said to possess the highest energy density and specific capacity when compared to other metals, increased power per volume should be obtained. This aspect should lead to the development of lighter, more efficient batteries that should find applications in daily life such as in portable electronic devices (most notably smartphones), grid storage and even in electric vehicles of the future.

"You might be able to have cell phone with double or triple the battery life or an electric car with a range of 300 miles that cost only $25,000—competitive with an internal combustion engine getting 40 mpg," said Steven Chu, former US secretary of energy and professor at Stanford University.

However, pure lithium anode batteries would require more effort in terms of engineering, financial support and project backup by major technology players across the globe.

In terms of engineering, scientists are currently focussed on working towards incorporating lithium entirely in the anode battery component.

A conventional battery comes with three basic components - anode, cathode and electrolyte. The electrolyte could be either in solid or liquid form, and commutes between the anode and cathode thereby separating the two components with a fair degree of accuracy.

Challenges to the development of pure lithium electrodes

The challenge for researchers to incorporate lithium within the anode is that the metal expands unevenly while charging, thereby potentially leading to the formation of cracks on the outer body of the battery.

These cracks tend to spill out lithium leading to the formation of protrusions on the battery's surface and these are knows as dendrites.

According to researchers, these dendrites have a tendency to cause battery short-circuits, and thereby reduce the overall life of the battery.

Another challenge faced by the researchers is the intensive chemical activity caused by lithium to the battery's electrode, along with the problem of overheating that arises out of the contact between anode and electrolyte.