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With "Self-Healing" Batteries, Longer Smartphone Battery Life Is Within Reach

Researchers at Stanford University have solved one of the biggest obstacles in developing batteries for smartphones and electric cars that last 10 times as long.

[Image: Flickr user moria]

A "self-healing battery" sounds weird—and it is. Researchers at Stanford University have developed a battery electrode that heals itself; this discovery takes care of one of the biggest obstacles preventing the invention of smartphone batteries with longer lives. Using a stretchy polymer that spontaneously heals cracks that form during battery operation, researchers Zhenan Bao and Yi Cui developed the revolutionary proof of concept. Details of the experiment were published in the November 19 issue of Nature Chemistry.

"Self-healing is very important for the survival and long lifetimes of animals and plants," said postdoctoral student Chao Wang, one of two principal authors of the Nature Chemistry paper. "We want to incorporate this feature into lithium ion batteries so they will have a long lifetime as well."

Bao's work has been featured in Fast Company several times; her lab is working on stretchy polymers referred to as "super skin" that can generate electricity through solar cells, provide robots with super-sensitive skin that can detect chemicals and energy, and even lead to successor technologies to the mouse and trackpad. The "super skin," which uses cutting edge plastics technology, is expected to play a major art in future consumer and industrial electronic technology.

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