A team of researchers have developed a new prototype battery that could lead to iPhones that charge in seconds and last for days. The battery prototype, created by scientists at the University of Central Florida, is a type of flexible supercapacitor, which can charge quicker and can store more energy than a conventional battery. Not only that, supercapacitors don’t degrade over time like lithium-ion batteries do — the UCF researcher’s prototype continued to function normally even after 30,000 charges.
“You could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” said Nitin Choudhary, one of the UCF researchers. The team recently published their research in ACS Nano, an academic journal.
Supercapacitors have long been viewed by scientists and the tech industry as a potential replacement for conventional battery systems — Elon Musk even stated back in 2011 that “ultracapacitors” will completely phase out traditional batteries sometime in the future, according to Engadget.
They are basically scaled-up versions of the capacitors at the heart of all electronic devices, supercapacitors can be charged quicker because they store electricity on a material’s surface, rather than in a chemical reaction like conventional batteries. The catch? A supercapacitor that could hold as much energy would have to be very large — as there needs to be enough “two-dimensional” material surface area to be able to hold a charge.
The UCF researchers use graphene for their two-dimensional material. And because it’s a challenge to use it with other materials, they’ve developed an innovative way to wrap the 2D metal materials around highly-conductive nanowires. The result is a fast-charging material with increased power density, that’s not overly complicated to produce, according to the researchers.
Of course, the research is still in the early days and isn’t ready to go commercial quite yet, so we probably won’t see supercapacitors in our phones for some time. But the technology is promising, and there’s a possibility that supercapacitors could show up in smaller devices like wearables. But someday, technology like this could certainly be implemented on a larger scale, and could power everything from electric cars that charge in minutes to iPhone batteries that last for weeks.