Toyota reveals battery that could solve smartphone woes

Batteries have become the biggest source of anxiety for today's smartphone users. While processing power, displays, and storage have more or less reached their highest potential, as far as current technologies are capable of, batteries haven't been able to compensate quickly. The search for longer battery lives, as well as safer batteries, continues. The smartphone industry's prayers might have just been answered by, almost amusingly, a car manufacturer. Toyota' scientists may have come up with a potent magnesium-based combination that could drastically improve battery output, life, and safety.

While lithium is one of the most common materials used in batteries, it is also the one that gives scientists and engineers the biggest headaches. By nature, lithium is unstable and dangerous. Battery makers have to resort to other materials, like graphite, in order to contain lithium and extract its ions without causing the lithium to explode, for example. it's a two-edged sword however, as the reduction of metal in the process also means that batteries aren't able to live to their full potential.

Enter magnesium, an element that has proven to be more effective and more stable than lithium in producing electricity. The problem with magnesium, however, is that there are few known electrolyte materials that could be used with magnesium. Electrolyte is the material, usually liquid, that actually carries electrons from the metal anodes to cathodes.

This is where the experience of Toyota principal scientist and chemical engineer Rana Mohtadi comes. Mohtadi has previously done research on the use of hydrogen storage materials for fuel cell technologies. It didn't take long for her to theorize that the same technology could actually be used for magnesium batteries. Fortunately for the battery industry, she was right and hydrogen proved to be a potential solution to the magnesium battery equation.

That said, the story is far from over and the quest for the perfect long-lived smartphone battery continues. Toyota's scientists have figured out the anode and electrolyte pieces of the puzzle, but the cathode remains a problem to be solved. Toyota is sharing its research and findings in the hopes that it could help move the battery industry forward as a whole.

SOURCE: Toyota