Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: an awesome, revolutionary, life-changing battery technology was just developed by researchers, allowing smartphones to last longer with less degradation over time, and maybe it’ll end up in your next device. Cool, right? This latest breakthrough in battery design comes from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, where professor Christopher Wolverton has devised a new method of designing lithium ion batteries that helps manufacturers determine the perfect cathode coating material to use. In theory, the new system would make batteries more reliable as they age, with less degradation in charge capacity. Unfortunately, we’ll probably never benefit from it, because mobile device battery technology is cursed.
I have a confession: I can no longer write stories about new battery breakthroughs with any kind of genuine excitement. It’s not that I don’t want my smartphone battery to be better than it is today — on the contrary, I’d love to be able to forget my charger for at least a few days at a time — but no matter how fantastic the discovery, concept, or design is, it never seems to make it into production.
Seriously, look at all these awesome battery breakthroughs from recent months:
- A battery that literally runs on gravity
- A battery that stores five times the charge as a normal Li-ion
- A smartphone battery that completely recharges in just 15 minutes
- A battery with a cathode coating that prevents degradation (again!)
- A battery that prevents itself from catching fire
- A battery made of sand that outperforms Li-ion
- A battery made of lithium sulfur
- A battery made of lithium metal that has double the capacity
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you go back a couple of years or more you’ll see even more example of battery breakthroughs that remain completely absent from our lives.
- A battery that can be recharged in seconds
- A battery that can recharge via voice
- A battery that literally charges itself
- A Li-ion battery that is 2,000 times more powerful
- A battery made of a polymer membrane that will kill Li-ion
- A battery that is actually the body of the device itself
Don’t get me wrong; if the new system developed by Northwestern’s bright minds manages to actually spawn more reliable, longer-lasting batteries for retail devices I’ll be happy to eat my words. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever have to.