The Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) recently announced the successful synthesization of a unique battery material which could be the breakthrough in battery technology that many have been waiting for.
Made from graphene – a 2D-matter that has long been heralded as a wonder material because of its extraordinary properties that hold the potential to revolutionize different industries including electronics, transportation, medicine and energy storage – the new synthesised material, named by the Samsung Electronics’ research arm as “graphene ball”, could potentially deliver charging speeds 5x faster than standard lithium-ion batteries and, theoretically, achieve a hundred percent charge in only 12 minutes.
According to SAIT, batteries that use graphene ball could also enable battery capacities to grow by as much as 45 percent and maintain a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius, a key requirement in electric cars. Samsung also said that they have patented the technology in South Korea and the US and that their research offered “promise for the next generation secondary battery market,” especially in relation to smartphones, smart gadgets and electric vehicles.
The full findings of SAIT’s research were recently published on Nature Communications. As the research suggests, Samsung’s team, led by Son In-hyuk, developed a mechanism that allows graphene with its multifunctional and unique properties, such as being 200 times stronger than steel, durable, highly conductive and the planet’s thinnest material to be mass synthesised into a 3D popcorn-like form using a quartz-like compound known as silica (SiO2). The team then used the graphene-ball technique to be utilized for both the anode protective layer and cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries. This application resulted in a significant increase in battery charging capacity, decrease of charging time as well as stable temperature performance.
With increased capacity, faster charging time is another crucial improvement that today’s batteries badly need. Currently, a battery takes an hour to fully charge.
It’s worth noting that while there have been improvements along the way since commercialization in 1991, the manufacturing process of ion-lithiums has not fundamentally changed. Samsung’s new graphene-ball breakthrough addresses the tech’s stagnant aspect thanks to the many advantages, including cost, that the underlying chemistry of the process possesses.
“Our research enables mass synthesis of multifunctional composite material graphene at an affordable price,” In-hyuk, explained.
“At the same time, we were able to considerably enhance the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries in an environment where the markets for mobile devices and electric vehicles is growing rapidly.
“Our commitment is to continuously explore and develop secondary battery technology in light of these trends.”
Samsung’s battery breakthrough is seen with excitement by many as the current technology, which has to do more with the way the cells are designed and manufactured, has obviously reached its limitations.
In a major setback to Samsung in the global phone business, hundreds of Galaxy Note 7, the company’s top-of-the-line smartphone, spontaneously started bursting into flames last year due to faulty lithium-ion batteries.
It goes without saying, that the time has come for a new battery tech that will displace the several decades old lithium-ion design. Designing and manufacturing fast charging and high-capacity batteries could have significant implications for most cutting-edge tech applications including smartphones, wearable computers, electric vehicles, all modern technological advancements that require large amounts of power and energy.