I always get a chuckle when techies go on and on about how great our mobile computing world is and my first reaction after choking back a laugh is to ask whether this great world is before or after they’ve had to charge their mobile batteries.
Truth is that as great as the whole idea of a mobile computing world is there are two things holding it back. The first is the carriers with their ridiculous fees and then there is your mobile device’s batteries – they suck.
Some researchers at the National University of Singapore’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI) may have found an alternative that won’t only revolutionize batteries but could also have a profound effect of the design of our mobile gadgets.
What they have done is discover a membrane that is made from a polystyrene-based polymer that is then placed between two flat plates of metal and when charged it can store the resulting energy at a rate of 2 farads per square centimeter. Not sure if that is good or not? Well standard capacitors can only manage to store up to 1 microfarad per square centimeter
Due in part to the membrane’s low fabrication costs, the cost of storing energy in it reportedly works out to 72 cents US per farad. According to the researchers, the cost for standard liquid electrolyte-based batteries is more like US$7 per farad. This in turn translates to an energy cost of 2.5 watt-hours per US dollar for lithium-ion batteries, whereas the membrane comes in at 10-20 watt-hours per dollar.
So not only can it store more energy but do it cheaper. Gotta like that but at this point the researcher are still looking into ways to commercialize their discovery so this isn’t something you’ll be seeing tomorrow.