Turnaround for smartphone batteries: the revolutionary invention

A new method allows to understand how smartphone batteries discharge and open the way to super fast recharges: they can last even only five minutes

When you buy a new smartphone a very important specification to consider is definitely the battery life. Between the devices that arrive until the evening and those that are discharged in the middle of the working day there is a big difference, because you have to consider the charging time that usually can be a few hours. Now, however, a revolutionary new invention is about to change all that.

A major breakthrough in battery research could allow smartphones and laptops to charge in as little as five minutes: a team of scholars at the University of Cambridge has announced that they have developed a new technique for lithium-ion batteries.

Because smartphone batteries charge in a long time

"We found," explained Ashkay Rao of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory, "that there are different speed limits for lithium-ion batteries, depending on whether they are charging or discharging."

"When charging, the speed depends on how fast the lithium ions can pass through the particles," he added. "When discharging, the speed is given by how fast the ions fit over the edges. By controlling these two mechanisms, we can make lithium-ion batteries charge much faster."

Charging your smartphone in five minutes: how the new method works

Cambridge researchers, in order to maximize the potential of batteries, have developed a new method. It is an optical microscopy technique that goes by the name of interferometric scattering and allows experts to better observe the phases in the charge-discharge cycle of lithium batteries.

Published in the scientific journal "Nature," the method proposed by scientists to recharge cell phones in minutes allows them to identify the "speed limits" for charge cycles within batteries and then understand how to maximize their potential.

"This lab technique we've developed offers a huge change in the speed of technology, so that we can keep up with the fast internal workings of a battery," said the study's co-author, Dr. Christoph Schnedermann of the Cavendish Laboratory.

"This technique could be an important piece of the puzzle in the development of next-generation batteries" and get to impressive charging speeds, as fast as five minutes.

Armando Mercuri