Can Silly Putty help create a breakthrough battery?
This entry was posted on June 2, 2014.
It's hard to resist the tug of a smile when imagining electrical engineers playing with silly putty. Dismiss the grin, switch playful imagination for objectivity, and we see the reality of the situation. The engineers of Riverside Bourns College of Engineering are actually researching ways to improve the efficiency of batteries with the aid of a compound found within silly putty. Thanks to this research, the nervous twitch of focus from smartphone screen to flashing low-battery icon may soon be a thing of the past.
Maximizing the Life of the Lithium Ion Battery
Used in countless mobile devices, the lithium ion battery is popular for its small dimensions and high capacity output. News headlines are sending ripples of interest throughout the electronics industry with talk of a novel way of tripling the life of these popular batteries. All that's required is the introduction of a novel material found within the pliable toy known as silly putty. Of course, the engineering involved is a touch more complex than mixing the substance with the innards of a Li-Ion battery. In short, it's molecular chemistry to the rescue.
Nanotube Designed for Longer Life
Revolutionizing portable energy storage technology is no small matter. Some believe the perfect battery to be the Holy Grail of mobile technology, enabling frustrated commuters to use their tablets and smartphones all day on a single charge. Imagine watching multiple high-definition movies on a skinny mobile device during a Trans-Atlantic flight, or playing a processor-intensive game during the same flight. Silicon dioxide, a chemical component of silly putty, is the key to making these mobile dreams a reality. Engineers have uncovered the full potential of silicon dioxide as a super-efficient anode by altering its molecular structure. This involves forming the silicon dioxide molecules into intricate nanotube lattices. The consequent improvement to anodes due to this molecular engineering magic could potentially result in storage gains of 3 times as much energy as standard Li-Ion batteries.
Market Realistic Makeup
Producing nanometer-scale silicon dioxide nanotubes presents something of a challenge considering the base of usage for lithium ion batteries. Every digital SLR camera, major smartphone manufacturer, and laptop computer company uses this form of power source. Developing practical anodes made from nanotubes of silicon dioxide, uniform molecular structures made of this primary ingredient of silly putty, is going to take time and investment. But the potential is huge. Silicon, as all semiconductor companies are aware, is an abundant element. It's also non-toxic and easy to work with as it's used in the electronic circuitry of so many devices.
Breakthroughs in battery technology reap high rewards for investors. Simply put, this is the final frontier in creating the perfect mobile product. The exotic materials and complex chemical soups utilized in these power sources already deliver a remarkable energy output and long life but not enough to cope with an entire day's heavy usage. Utilizing this plentiful material found in silly putty could be the key to leaving battery chargers at home, to reducing energy consumption and being truly environmentally friendly in an age where the mobile device is valued above all else.