An end to battery blues may be here soon

06th January 2018
An end to battery blues may be here soon
Battery-less phone prototype developed by Gollakota and Talla at Washington State University

Tech Trends 2018 --6
 A dying battery is the  mobile phone owner's biggest pain point. But help is on the horizon
Bangalore, January 6 2018: The computing power  of your mobile phone,  grows  exponentially every year. Today’s  octa-core processor,   offers   an eight-fold improvement  of performance in less than  4 years.  RAM memory, storage,  camera specs — everything  becomes bigger, better by the month. 
But there is one laggard inside your phone: the battery that fuels your phone. It just doesn’t measure  up to the demands made by today’s   users. Do you long for the day when  a full charge  was good to go for a week? 

Li-ion  King: Sadly,   the technology behind the  most popular   battery material, Lithium Ion   — a compound of Lithium as the positive electrode,  carbon or graphite as the negative pole and a salt of Lithium as the  semi fluid in between —  has hardly evolved since the turn of the century.   What has changed is the speed at which  one can recharge the phone battery.  Technologies like Qualcomm's  QuickCharge, Oppo'sVOOC Flash Charge or  the OnePlus Dash Charge,  can cut the time for a full  charge to half an hour or so.  Their collective mantra is Less time in the socket, more time in the pocket!
 But unless your phone has one of those jumbo batteries of 5000 mAh or more, you will still run down your battery in a working day.  So, we may have to live with the Li-ion King for a few more years.   But there are some interesting developments:

Sunny Li-ion: Solar chargers  are available for phones -- but they are slower than mains chargers. Scientists at McGill University and the Hydro-Québec’s research institute are working on a single device capable of harvesting and storing energy using light. In other words, a self-charging battery. The study shows that  the cathode or negative  electrode of a lithium-ion battery can be “sensitized” to light by incorporating photo-harvesting dye molecules.  The team is racing to try and build the world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery.

Supercapacitors: Eesha Khare,  an Indian-origin student  in the US made global headlines when she   took a top prize at  the Intel Science Fair three years ago  with her invention,  a Super Capacitor, that could charge an existing phone battery in 30 seconds. She is now a student at Harvard but continues to  work  with Intel mentorship,  to commercially market her brainchild. But sine this is a solo effort it is difficult to set a time line.

Battery-free phones: In July 2017, two Indians  at Washington State University: Vamsi Talla and Shyam Gollakota demonstrated  the world's Skype call  made from a  mobile phone without a battery.  Using commercial-off-the-shelf components, they created a prototype of a cell phone without battery, that operated on power  that is harvested from Radio Frequency  signals transmitted by a  mobile base station  about 10 metres away.   They supplemented this power  by harvesting power from ambient light  using tiny photodiodes.
But can a mobile phone  perform all these functions, in real time, using only a few micro-watts of power generated without a battery? They eliminated  the most  power-hungry steps in mobile phones and brought down the requirement to  around  3-4 microwatts, a fraction of what phones today gobble up.  Now they are working  to see if the  RF signals can be drawn from the nearest cell  tower -- and we have plenty of those all around us. 
They are working  to commercialize the tech and it could well happen in a few years. (IndiaTechOnline)