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Is tin the secret to longer battery life?

Posted: , by Scott H.

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Is tin the secret to longer battery life?
One of the great ironies of the mobile revolution is how we end up feeling even more dependent on cords, since we have to plug our devices frequently to recharge them. Battery recharging issues may have come to a head last year, when the first LTE devices shipped and users found they sometimes had to charge them twice (or more) a day, depending on usage.  Now it’s on everyone’s mind, and surveys show that smartphone users consistently rank battery life as one of the top qualities they seek in a handset.

But alas, physics is a tough task master, so there are only so many ways to improve battery life. You can make a device sip less energy, although this comes at the cost of reduced performance. The only major gains that hardware can provide tend to be major generational shifts in chips, as manufacturers introduce smaller transistors to their chips.

Increasing battery size is obviously another possibility, and is they route taken by the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX, which achieves its astonishing battery life by packing a whopping 3300 mAH battery inside its chassis. But this solution quickly provides diminishing returns; customers adore battery life, but also love them some skinny phones that will slide into their pants pocket. The other problem is that making batteries larger also increases the charge time, a fact that RAZR MAXX and new iPad owners can both attest to.

Is tin the secret to longer battery life?
The third solution is to increase the density at which batteries can pack electrons – literally to cram more charge into the same space. This is the ideal solution, but is also the hardest one – hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent researching how to increase battery density. That usually requires the introduction of new materials for the anode of the battery with something that holds more electrons than graphene. Silicon is a favorite choice of researchers, and could lead to a ten-fold increase in battery density.

The problem is that silicon is harder to make into anodes; people want better batteries, but they aren’t willing to pay as much as a used car for them. But according to researchers at Washington State University there may be a shorter-term answer: Tin anodes. Tin isn’t as good at packing in electrons as silicon, but it’s significantly better than graphene, packing in three times as many electrons. Another benefit is that tin anodes charge faster, so the increased battery life wouldn’t require an equally increased charge time.

Most importantly, tin is easier to manufacture. It can be electroplated right to copper wires (graphene requires an extra step to get it to adhere) so it’s possible that tin anodes could eventually be cheaper to produce. Grant Norton, head of the materials science team working on tin anodes, thinks this could move from lab to production fairly quickly if a tech company were to properly invest in the process.

So here’s hoping that soon tin will be in more than just our pop cans – let’s hope someone runs with this and gives us affordable battery life that lasts 2-3x as long as today!

source: WSU News via Forbes

37 Comments
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posted on 24 May 2012, 11:11 21

1. darktranquillity (Posts: 284; Member since: 28 Feb 2012)


Why can't the companies pool the money that they waste on patent litigations for a greater cause like long lasting battery life?

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:32 3

8. QinEmpire (Posts: 145; Member since: 16 May 2012)


That will probably happen if Samsung and Google stop copying Apple.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:48 11

12. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


Is this another of Taco's notorious alt accounts? geesh.

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:11 9

18. networkdood (Posts: 5517; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Maybe he is strikercho's step brother

posted on 24 May 2012, 15:45

26. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


No not my account, but i agree with the statement.

posted on 24 May 2012, 16:22 7

27. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


of course you do. your a moron.

posted on 24 May 2012, 16:50

28. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


*you're

The irony here of calling me a moron while making a grammatical error that's learned in the 3rd grade.

posted on 25 May 2012, 07:04 1

35. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


aww.. is da wittle baby troll picking on spelling again, thus proving that he has no actual argument left? aww.

posted on 24 May 2012, 20:55 5

29. Birds (Posts: 927; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)


Remixfa, I've had a crush on you for a long time now. You are the geekiest phone geek I know. :)

posted on 24 May 2012, 21:06 6

30. Sniggly (Posts: 6490; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


*starts playing some romantic bulls**t Italian music*

posted on 25 May 2012, 07:03 2

34. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


iiiiiiiiim in the moooooood for looooooove simply becaauuuuuse I aaaaaaaaaaaaaaam. :)

or

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie.. thats amore. la lalala

posted on 24 May 2012, 13:10 6

24. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 4600; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


People are talking that oil company's has bought up all the patents for better batteries. :)

posted on 25 May 2012, 08:15 1

36. Fallout09 (Posts: 409; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Would surprise me.... GE sat on a patent for a 10 year light bulb for like 10 years. I also remember GM buying a patent for a rotary car engine that get the same performance of a V8 while only running on 4 cylinders using 1/3 if the fuel.

posted on 29 May 2012, 15:06

37. troutsy (Posts: 212; Member since: 17 Feb 2012)


I don't think that last part about GM is correct at all.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:15 4

2. ryq24 (Posts: 442; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


expect a chinese company to try to buy or copy this technology.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:17 6

3. Sniggly (Posts: 6490; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Motorola: get the f**k on this. Give us a new Razr Maxxed Out with a 3300 mAH battery and 63 hours of talk time. You know you want to.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:23 2

4. biophone (Posts: 1884; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


I saw the razr and razr maxx have a high sarr rating. Wonder if the battery has anything to do with it.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:31 10

6. Sniggly (Posts: 6490; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Nah. Motorola phones almost always do. They skirt the edge of legal radiation limits because they stuff freaking powerful radios into their phones. It's why their reception and call quality are usually so good.

No worries though. I've been using Motorola phones for years, and I have no crippling tumors yet. Though I have grown a third eye. And I can suddenly jump really high. And I have a voracious appetite for human flesh now.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:37 3

9. biophone (Posts: 1884; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


I have noticed the sarr ratings for moto phones are usually high.

All kidding aside I just don't like the idea of my phone pushing the legal limits of radiation.

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:42 4

23. Sniggly (Posts: 6490; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Why? If it's still in the legal limits, it should be pretty damn safe. Look at Martin Cooper. He's been using cell phones for over 30 years and he's fine.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:49 13

14. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


maybe taco should switch to moto, it might mutate him into an actual human.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:59 6

16. EclipseGSX (Posts: 1471; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


...or the most terrifying beast on the planet earth

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:38 1

21. kanagadeepan (Posts: 590; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)


For that Moto is NOT at all enough... How about Cheap Chinese clone mobile phones selling for 10 to 20$ and SAR rating also in same range (10-20w/kg instead of

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:06 3

17. jmoita2 (Posts: 930; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)


LMAO!!!

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:26 2

5. farhanmohdyousaf (Posts: 16; Member since: 21 May 2012)


yayyy i hope it gets into smartphones before i decide to buy my next one :)

btw i have a technical question.. doesnt the charge time decrease if u use a higher voltage charger?

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:32 2

7. Sniggly (Posts: 6490; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


I think it can. Car chargers usually charge faster, but at least the rule of thumb used to be that you should only use a car charger when necessary.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:38 2

10. biophone (Posts: 1884; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Who really cares about the charge time anyway. A small price to pay for a larger battery.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:48 2

13. GuiltyBystander (Posts: 199; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


Thankfully by the end of the year, we will have USB3 chargers so that should help with the charging times.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:46 2

11. troutsy (Posts: 212; Member since: 17 Feb 2012)


Charge time does get shorter, but battery life (in terms of number of recharge cycles) would be shorter and there would be much more heat generated on the phone.

The batteries I've worked with are obsolete technology now, but the sweet spot was to charge at a rate of 10% of the total capacity per hour to preserve maximum life. It's not the size of the battery that affects the charging time, but rather Motorola may have chosen to charge slower for better battery life or is using a carry-over charger that was intended to handle much smaller batteries.

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:42 1

22. DigitalBoy05 (Posts: 200; Member since: 04 Jun 2011)


Thats genius if motorola is in fact making it take longer to charge to maintain a healthy battery. Its not like you can take the battery out on the maxx or razr if it craps out on you.

posted on 24 May 2012, 11:51 3

15. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


dont do that. voltages are set for a specific reason.. so you dont BLOW UP the device. higher voltage also = higher heat which can damage the device permanently. Also you are more likely to damage the battery.

If you use a car charger, only use it until its "almost" full. Car chargers never stop trying to cram juice into the phone, so if you leave it on there for too long you can quickly damage that battery. I've seen a brand new phone need a new battery in 3 weeks because the moron kept it on the car charger for 3 or 4 hrs worth of daily commute.

posted on 25 May 2012, 00:12

32. theruleslawyer (Posts: 108; Member since: 23 Apr 2012)


No. You need a higher amperage charger. There is an upper limit though. Almost all lipo batteries can be charged very safely at a 1c rate. That's 1hr charge rate. Most can take 2c pretty easy. You can go even higher- I think about 5c is the limit for really good lipo without fire risk. The trouble becomes the heat that is generated. Most users would be very concerned about device temps at 2c rates.

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:22 2

19. steelicon (Posts: 306; Member since: 02 Apr 2011)


Symbian Belle FP1 is the secret to longer battery life. ;-)

posted on 24 May 2012, 12:23 2

20. Captain_Doug (Posts: 735; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


I'd pay more for a battery that'd last me 3x longer as long as its in reason. A replacement battery costs like $15, I'd be okay to pay 3x that. I charge my phone like 2-3 times a day due to how much I use it. If I could make it a whole day or even 2 days, I can't even imagine.

posted on 24 May 2012, 13:22

25. wsucoug13 (Posts: 164; Member since: 04 May 2012)


Couuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on 25 May 2012, 00:07 1

31. theruleslawyer (Posts: 108; Member since: 23 Apr 2012)


You know if this happens we'll end up with phones 3x as powerful and the same crappy battery life.

posted on 25 May 2012, 06:35 1

33. grif_ (Posts: 61; Member since: 28 Apr 2012)


imagine a 3000mah battery like this :)

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