The battery in smartphones and tablets is one of, if not the most, important parts of the whole package.
But movement to make the battery in our most-used devices better has been somewhere around a snail’s pace, with only a few options worth nothing over the years. All of which have yet to actually turn into anything for the consumer. That doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made behind-the-scenes, though.
In the latest episode of NOVA, entitled Search for the Super Battery, which airs on PBS, David Pogue goes into detail regarding battery technology, and covers a variety of different optics. That includes batteries inside the cars of the future, showcasing the power of Lithium, renewable energy, and even making batteries safer.
That last segment is where Pogue introduces the world to a battery that “refuses to explode.” In the segment, Pogue introduces viewers to Mike Zimmerman, a materials scientist, a professor at Tufts University, and the CEO of Ionic Materials. Zimmerman then introduces Pogue to a battery that can keep on powering a device, even when it’s damaged.
In the segment, we get to see this new battery get cut, and Pogue even stabs and punctures the battery with a screwdriver — while it keeps powering up an iPad. (Zimmerman removed the internal battery of the iPad, just for this test.)
It works by replacing the liquid electrolyte and the separator inside the battery with a specially-crafted plastic polymer, which in itself creates a solid battery. Inside a standard lithium-ion battery, the liquid electrolyte is flammable, which can cause incidents like the one we’ve seen in the past with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 (and, in other rare cases, other smartphones). However, Zimmerman’s plastic electrolyte is flame retardant.
This is all good news in general, but, as is par for the course with these types of advancements, there’s not much space to say whether or not this is something that will take off any time soon. Zimmerman admits that something like this might be tough to scale, and he also notes that for the battery to gain any ground, he has to find a partner to make it work.
Still, good to see changes coming to the battery in general. Maybe we see something like this rolled out for our smartphones in the near future.
You can watch the segment below.