Research in the field of battery technology is normally aimed at increasing capacity, decreasing charge time and decreasing size. All of these are important, if battery tech is to keep up with the gadgets it powers, but stability is a factor that is left mostly unaddressed. A team of researchers with Toyota may have managed to solve this issue, however. They have discovered two compounds that can be used to make solid-state batteries that held up far better in torture testing than the traditional lithium-ion batteries that most devices use these days. The materials are also fairly cheap to obtain and process.
One of the compounds that the researchers found suitable to make such stable batteries was a mix of lithium, phosphate, silicon, sulfur and chlorine. The other compound used in testing was a bit simpler, only comprised of lithium, phosphorous and sulfur. While the more complex mixture yielded better conductivity, which would result in faster charging and the potential for faster power delivery when needed, the simpler complex was found to be more stable. When both were tested in temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius, they were found to up their conductivity and potential output just a bit, but kept their all-important chemical and electrical stability. When one of the conductors used for testing was fashioned into a solid-state lithium battery cell, tests showed extremely low electrical resistance. While that trait may not help to boost capacity and density, it is great news on the stability front and may help to prevent catastrophic failures or energy seepage. Although batteries employing this technology won’t be more dense than normal, they may boast slightly better standby times as a result of the extremely low resistance.
In the past, solid-state battery technology has normally involved compounds that are either too expensive for mass production or far too unstable for every day use, lending themselves to chemical breakdowns and decay. While these new compounds are a breakthrough in battery technology, their role in helping to extend battery life for smartphones in the future will be minimal at best, unless further research involving them leads to another breakthrough. It should be noted that this discovery is not brand new, but rather highly experimental and only recently made public via Nature. The publication originally received the article detailing the new tech back in October of last year.