A group of researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created microbatteries that charge 1,000 times faster than normal batteries and can, feasibly, “jump-start a car” while powering a cellphone. The group, led by William King, is working on shrinking the batteries down to fit inside a “credit-card thin” device.
The batteries use a design that offers a much larger surface area for the cathode and anode which improves discharge as well as charge rate. While cathode (or plus side) improvements have existed for a while, this is the first one that also improves the “minus side” or anode.
In practice, the batteries could help create devices last 30 times longer or transmit farther distances – albeit with a hit in battery life. Many batteries either have a high power – the ability to pump out a lot of juice quickly – or high energy – the ability to store that juice and mete it out. Capactitors, for example, charge quickly but express their power very quickly as well. Li-Ion batteries hold energy but take a long time to charge. Because these batteries can hold so much energy and charge so quickly, you get the best of both worlds.
“Now we can think outside of the box,” said James Pikul, a graduate student on the project. “It’s a new enabling technology. It’s not a progressive improvement over previous technologies; it breaks the normal paradigms of energy sources. It’s allowing us to do different, new things.”
You can read the paper here but be warned it’s a bit nerdy and bit pricey to download.