A new research paper details the efforts of a team at Stanford University who are looking to create a lithium battery that, if successful, could lead to much longer battery life for smartphones and tablets, but it could take several years for that research to yield practical products.

The paper, published in the Nature Nanotechnology scientific journal, talks about how the team has created a way to use lithium in a battery's anode component, rather than the typical electrolyte section. This should should allow for those batteries to keep their charge up to three times the lenght of today's packs, which should please people who have to resort to external battery packs to extend their talk or data time.

The problem? Placing the lithium in the anode can cause instability in the battery, and no one wants that. To solve this issue, the Stanford team has created a kind of carbon shield to put around the anode. offers a simplified version of what the paper states the team has come up with:

The Stanford team's nanosphere layer resembles a honeycomb: it creates a flexible, uniform and non-reactive film that protects the unstable lithium from the drawbacks that have made it such a challenge. The carbon nanosphere wall is just 20 nanometers thick. It would take some 5,000 layers stacked one atop another to equal the width of single human hair.

While this is a big breakthrough, it may still be several years before the first lithium batteries based on this method could be made. What do you think of the prospect of having smartphone or tablet batteries that could last up to three times as long as current models?

Source: Nature via Phys


Reader comments

Researchers think they can triple your smartphone battery life — but it won't happen soon


By that point the battery drain from the 4k displays will negate most of the gain ;)

I really can't wait for this. Imagine what it will do for Android Wear.

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In the next few years, research is pointing to getting away from batteries all together. Capacitors can store more energy and use them more efficiently with faster charging. Unfortunately most of the research is being done towards electronic cars now and will filter out from there. But imagine the same size batteries we are using now with 10x the power we get and use.

New super capacitors that the Government and a hand full of energy tech companies have already talked about in their R&D programs, this from what I read over a year ago. I doubt they would release frivolous info and time dates for what they are doing publicly.

Quite a few articles about how Li-ion could be a dead market for when all these new capacitors come out, even MIT has written about their graphine capacitors that are better than Li-Ion batteries.

It is always "soon" when it comes to battery technology, it shouldn't be since the G3 has a 2K screen. Resolution and hardware is getting better and higher and batteries still have not made any significant breakthroughs.

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Good observation, I feel that way about the amount of technology that uses the internet today, but the ISP's network infrastructures have not improved much in 10+ years. Computers are getting faster and files are getting larger, but the internet speeds are still about 25-30 Mbps on average.

While I wish I had access to 25Mbps internet connections 10 years ago at my home I am not sure what I would have done with it. Few servers would have been capable of serving up data that fast and few applications would have benefited from it if they could have.

I beg to differ. Battery tech is improving a lot. My dads first mobile was this big to allow "all-day" functionality:
The first pocketable phones had batteries that were bigger than today's phablets, the phones couldn't even send text messages, and still you needed to bring two spare batteries, just in case two people would call you during the day.

We're just frustrated because we think a dumbphone can have weeks of standby while a smartphone only lasts a day or two.

That phone is HOT! I remember a friend that had a AMPS cell phone in a big bag with a lead acid battery and I thought it was amazing.

Now we can surf and stream and a million other things at 75Mbps on a phone smaller than a pack of baseball cards. Not bad.

I see where you're coming from, but that's mainly to do with using cells with crappy chemistry because they were cheep. Lithium Ion cells existed then they were just expensive.

Besides, we've been using the current battery technology at least since the Nokia 3310 days. I can't think of another component that has gone unchanged for that long, even antenna technology has improved.

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Battery size has improved not the technology itself. Even then more than the size of the battery affects battery life and that is why battery technology sucks right now.

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They can, but then what would be the point of buying a new phone if the old one lasts so long. That equals less profit.

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Exactly, you nailed it. Once batteries last long enough, any desire to buy a different phone will be completely gone! Marketing divisions will be fired in waves and the market will reach saturation, causing most electronics manufacturing businesses to die.

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What has happened in other industries, is that a small company pioneers new technology such as the never-ending light bulb. They patent their design, which a large bulb maker spots. The bulb maker approaches the company to buy the company & offers far more than the company is worth.

The owners sell and the bulb maker hides the revolutionary bulb design. It's what you might call aggressive protectionism.

Fun fact:

The first reliable electric cars/motor was built in 1886. In 1900, 38% of all cars in America were electric.

Wonder why we stopped developing the technology? (rhetorical question)

Its great news but about 3 years late, I'm surprised the likes of Google / Samsung / LG have not been trying to sole this along time ago.

The benefits will be great for sure but OEMs will only use it as an excuse roads more gimmicks to their handsets that will negate the research.

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How is it 3 years late? Did someone make the technology obsolete already? Don't get me wrong, I wish it were here 3 years ago but just because I want something doesn't somehow negate it's relevance today.

It is kind of amazing how slow innovation has been on the battery front. Considering how dependent we have become on mobile devices and the bottlenecks they have imposed on technology today it is amazing that this has not been a higher priority across the board.

Battery technology hasnt evolved because consumers havent demanded it and also because advanced battery technology would dampen sales. Just imagine if every cased-in battery would last days on end for 3 or 4 years, you'd never buy a new phone. That said am I the only one who finds it funny that the entire cell phone industry resolves around the magically 2 yr cycle, contracts last 2 yrs, batteries last 2 years, hell even hardware last 2 years mostly....Just sayin...

I have a nexus 7 2nd gen, I'd have preferred it to be a bit thicker and have double the capacity, I don't know why they don't do that as I would prefer double the time for the sake of a few mm in thickness.
Same for my moto g, just thicken it up and double the juice.

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because everyone wants lighter, thinner and no bezel even when that is not really possible to cram a 15000 battery in it.

I will take a phone that has a battery twice the size like you would...

Really? I know many people who don't want bigger screens with no bezels and paper thin body's.

Phones are crazy powerful and even so much so that 70% of user don't even use their full potential, something along the lines of current gen devices with a decent battery would suit millins , but OEMs want to cram more gizmos and junk into their devices to sell them.

How sweet would a 5" quad core 32gb with a 8 to 12mp camera be that will hold its charge for 3 days ?

That would sell faster than any face-fingerprint-dna-scanner clad slab that looks the same as the last 2 years phones !

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Why are you turning this into a Samsung thing and why can i not have both?

Anyway, all the time around you you hear people complain about bezel and thickness. I will take a thicker body, the bezel I do not care too much about (maybe HTC is a bit far) and a 2 day battery

It's more than time for a breakthrough in battery tech, as these devices become capable of more and more we want to use them more and more.
I envy the person who said that internet speeds are "only" 25-30mbps. I'm lucky to get 2.5mbps on my DSL because there's no financial incentive for Verizon to improve their infrastructure in my city. If anyone could reliably give me something significantly faster, other than Comcast whom I will not touch, I'd be dropping Verizon in a hurry, wonder if that could translate to a financial incentive??

Why won't you touch Comcast? I'll bet the "person" is NOT using DSL; maybe a different company near you can use Comcast's infrastructure or you could get a VPN.

Posted via Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2)

If batter drain gets worse over time, then it might matter to me. But, the phone thus far lasts me all day with ease. And at the end of the day I drop it on my wireless charging pad next to the bed. I don't see needing the extra battery efficiency at this point. And Android itself focused on updating the operating systems for better efficiency as of lately, will be nice. But I don't think that it's going to affect me all that much (perhaps different for others).

You've never traveled? Never gone camping? Never gone to an all-night event? Always had reliable transportation?

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None of those questions actually relate to my comment. If the battery can last for the entire day and get charged in the evening, then personally "it works for me". Even if I were to need it for several days without a charge, then I should ration it. Put it in airplane mode or turn it off when I don't need it. I'm not gonna use my phone while camping or up at the mountains. This weekend I went to a convention for a the weekend, turned on the airplane mode and had 80 percent battery by the end of it all.

Sort of feel like the people who run out of battery too quickly just "might" have an addiction problem they aren't willing to admit, heh.

Why bother publishing articles like this? Why tease the readers? If the tech is not available now or in the near future (3 to 6 months) then is a waste of time.

because sites like this are for enthusiasts who not only want to know what is here, what is coming this year, but also what could come 3 years from now.

I have been excited about YOUM and flexible screens since they first showed them off a year and a half ago and they still have not really hit mainstream yet

Batteries technology is actually improving all the time. But more and more power hungry features negate this.

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I'm totally stoked for this! It's always been my opinion that battery tech has been holding electronics back. With batteries that last 3x longer, I can only imagine the possibilities. Plus I wouldn't have to charge my phone every night or have to worry about bringing an extra battery along on days when I'm away from a charger! I wish it could happen sooner, but I'll wait eagerly for this!

Typed on tiny keys just for you

Galaxy Note 3 would last 3 or 4 days of heavy usage, then Samsung would update TouchWiz and you'd get 6 hours.