Research means that batteries are constantly improving as technology develops. Li-ion batteries, long used in mobile phones and other hand-held electronic devices, are the right choice for these devices with lower load and size requirements, but can the same technology be used for other applications?
An article by Dexter Johnson recently published (http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/liion-batteries-keep-improving-but-for-what-application) details how new advances in technology to change the electrodes of li-ion batteries from graphite to silicon could herald great advances, allowing much larger scale applications for li-ion batteries. Could these batteries be how we'll power almost everything in the future - replacing the ubiquitous alkaline batteries?
Perhaps, but there's one problem that needs to be addressed first. Silicon expands and contracts during the recharge cycle of the battery's life, causing it to crack and become useless after a relatively small number of charges - something which makes it inviable for regular use. However, Johnson details how a new hybrid silicon, sulphur and graphene material recently developed in Canada may provide a much greater life than silicon alone while retaining many of the advantages - especially regarding energy density. A flash heat treatment process was developed that significantly decreases the expansion usually seen in silicon and increases overall performance.
This is great news for the battery industry and consumers alike. These new batteries could have a dramatically longer life than current rechargeable batteries on the market, so users can expect their battery powered devices to keep going for even longer. They also have the potential to be adapted to a wide range of purposes, such as for remote controls, toys and even electric vehicles. This could revolutionise the consumer goods industries, with more and more items being sold with rechargeable li-ion batteries (as we've already seen with cameras and similar devices).
It seems that battery tech is finally starting to catch up with all the huge innovations that have been made with devices and other technology in recent years. It remains to be seen how far these li-ion hybrid batteries could spread, but we're excited to see what the future holds.