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Power Hardware Technology

Samsung Develops 'Graphene Ball' Battery With 5x Faster Charging Speed (digitaltrends.com) 137

Heart44 writes: A number of outlets are reporting a Samsung laboratory breakthrough allowing smaller and faster charging lithium-ion batteries using three-dimensional graphene. Digital Trends reports: "Scientists created a 'graphene ball' coating for use inside a regular li-ion cell, which has the effect of increasing the overall capacity by up to 45 percent and speeding up charging by five times. If your phone charges up in 90 minutes now, that number will tumble to just 18 minutes if the cell inside has been given a graphene ball boost. What's more, this doesn't seem to affect the cell's lifespan, with the team claiming that after 500 cycles, the enhanced battery still had a 78 percent charge retention. The graphene coating improves the stability and conductivity of the battery's cathode and electrode, so it's able to take the rigors of fast charging with fewer downsides." The technical paper describing how the graphene ball works and how it's produced is published in the journal Nature.
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Samsung Develops 'Graphene Ball' Battery With 5x Faster Charging Speed

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  • Just curious, how dissimilar are these 'graphene balls' from buckyballs [wikipedia.org]? Both are made from graphite, and are spherical.

    • Re:Not Buckyballs? (Score:4, Informative)

      by pahles ( 701275 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @05:35AM (#55642553)
      From TFA: "Each GB is composed of a SiO x nanoparticle center and surrounding graphene layers, constituting a three-dimensional (3D) popcorn-like structure." Buckyballs (or rather Buckminsterfullerene) is C60, consisting of 60 Carbon atoms in a ball-like structure. So, totally dissimilar.
    • Re:Not Buckyballs? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @05:42AM (#55642567)

      Buckyballs are much smaller. These siloxane lumps are 10-20x larger than a typical buckyball. You'll probably find that the vapour deposition will result in several sheets of graphene depositing at different points and growing together into a not-quite-perfect coating. Not enough to break the functionality, but enough to disqualify it from the comparatively geometrically pure buckyballs, which have mind-boggling symmetry.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      about as similar as a bowling ball is to a grid iron ball.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What phone takes 90 minutes for a full charge?

    All the current Androids do 50% in 15 mins and 100% within 45 mins.

    I smell bullshit.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      Officially, the S7s take 30min for 50% and 88min for 100%. I feel like it's faster than that, but I haven't actually timed it. And they're only QuickCharge 2.0.
  • by dmesg0 ( 1342071 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @07:05AM (#55642755)

    I'm charging my S8+ ~1.5 a day. 500 charges means that after just 1 year the battery is at 78% of capacity, What happens after 1.5 years?

    Even for those who charge only once a day, 500 charges is ~1.5 years, which is less than the common 2-year lifespan of the phone.

    Increasing the battery density probably won't help either, as manufacturers will again make thinner phones instead of increasing capacity.

    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @07:30AM (#55642807)

      I'm charging my S8+ ~1.5 a day. 500 charges means that after just 1 year the battery is at 78% of capacity, What happens after 1.5 years?

      Even for those who charge only once a day, 500 charges is ~1.5 years, which is less than the common 2-year lifespan of the phone.

      Increasing the battery density probably won't help either, as manufacturers will again make thinner phones instead of increasing capacity.

      If their 45% capacity increase estimates are accurate, you will not have to endure as many cycles per year, and for the average user not charging as often as you do, that will likely translate to a couple of years. Besides, after a year, all current smartphone batteries are running at some level of degradation. It's essentially expected.

      As far as it not lasting, smartphone factory warranties are typically one year. Manufacturers don't give a shit how long your service contract is. That's your problem. Their only job is to manufacture hardware that lasts through the warranty period, and not much longer. Revenue is maximized that way.

      • by dmesg0 ( 1342071 )

        If their 45% capacity increase estimates are accurate, you will not have to endure as many cycles per year, and for the average user not charging as often as you do, that will likely translate to a couple of years.

        As I wrote , the major manufacturers tend decreasing the size and the weight of the phone instead of increasing battery capacity (there is some capacity increase only to accommodate larger power-hungry screens).

        • If their 45% capacity increase estimates are accurate, you will not have to endure as many cycles per year, and for the average user not charging as often as you do, that will likely translate to a couple of years.

          As I wrote , the major manufacturers tend decreasing the size and the weight of the phone instead of increasing battery capacity (there is some capacity increase only to accommodate larger power-hungry screens).

          With regards to shitty design, consumers need to start voting with their wallets to take back hardware design. It's obvious no manufacturer has consumer interest in mind, and instead is solely focused on maximizing revenue.

          The problem is convincing the blindly ignorant masses who happily take whatever paper-thin bullshit design is thrown at them, all because it's the "new" one.

          • The problem with voting with your wallet is the same as with actually voting - you can only vote among the options provided. Personally I haven't seen many nice chunky phones that only have to be charged once a week. Have you?

            Plus there's the problem with "optimistic" advertising - it's not often you hear about a phone whose charge actually lasts as long as advertised. Some do, many don't. And if you can't trust the claims on the box... well that's about as much "research" as the average consumer is goi

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            The larger problem is that these aren't technical tools for a technical audience anymore, the blindly ignorant masses are 98% of the customer base now and what sells to them is what drives design.

            And since they drive the entire product cycle anymore, there's no choices left. Here and there projects pop up which claim to produce a smartphone that does something the market leaders don't, but they always seem to fizzle because of the overhead of an actual new smartphone design.

            And in many ways, doesn't the sm

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @10:09AM (#55643515) Homepage

        Thing is the EU wised up and mandated that everything now comes with a two year warranty in an attempt to stop landfill, filling up with cheaply manufactured junk that fails after a just over a year. A market of 500 million first worlder's is generally too big to miss out on.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          A market of 500 million first worlder's is generally too big to miss out on.

          Tell that to 17 million people in the UK. Fucking morons.

        • The EU has 2year warranty by law since decades.
          I live in Germany, as long as I can remember it never was less than two years.

        • First World doing everything it can as fast as it can to become Third World. Coudenhove-Kalergi sends his regards.
      • Moreover, it's a tradeoff. If the battery loses capacity a little faster but charges in 18 minutes instead of 90, then it may not matter if you have to charge more often.
    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      This is already the case. The point they are making is that it charges faster, and the durability is the same as before. The summary clearly says it doesn't affect the cell's lifespan.

      this doesn't seem to affect the cell's lifespan, with the team claiming that after 500 cycles, the enhanced battery still had a 78 percent charge retention

      • by dmesg0 ( 1342071 )

        The number of cycles that is usually quoted for Li-Ion batteries is ~1000 for 80% depth of discharge (DoD of 100% can lower that to 200-300).
        I don't know under what conditions 500 cycles were achieved (the articles only says 5C, but not DoD).

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      That's 500 cycles of rapid charging. You probably don't supercharge your phone 1.5 times a day.

    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      If you keep it hovering around the middle instead of charging to 100% there is a lot less degradation. Is why I pull mine off the charger at 80-90% and try not to let it run all the way down. All of this would be a non issue if they gave us back swappable batteries. We are all idiots for supporting these built in battery phones.
      • I had heard that if you keep your charge between 50% and 80% you minimize wear and tear on your battery. I have an iPhone 7 that I've had for 13 months. I've tried to keep the battery charge in that range. There have been times when I've left it on the charger and it charged to 100%. I've also had it drain down to maybe 20% or so.

        Using the iOS app "Battery Life", just this week my wear level dropped from 0% to 3%. I had used this app on my iPhone 5 prior to that and it had showed my battery was worn do

      • Why is this not built into the phone by default? I rarely drop below 50% with my usage pattern. I think it would be great to be able to have the battery never charge above 90%, even when left on the charger. I've seen a laptop with this feature, and it sounds like a great idea especially on phones with a built in battery. I'd gladly take 10% less potential battery that I never use over having my battery stay in better shape longer. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it seems that you'd lose that top 1

        • Why would you buy a new phone if your current one were still holding 90% of it's original charge capacity? Sure, there's a percentage of the population that falls for the "new and shiny", but I think most people probably still wait until their existing phone starts having problems.

          I'd be willing to bet that even with replaceable batteries "I need a new battery" adds some extra motivation to just buy a new phone instead.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          My Sony ZX1 compact has something called battery care. I plug it in at night and it tells me that it will reach 100% charge just before I wake up. Further as I understand it the 100% displayed charge is actually only 90% of the capacity of the battery.

        • by jbengt ( 874751 )

          I think it would be great to be able to have the battery never charge above 90%, even when left on the charger.

          That should already be happening, internally. But it needs to display as 100% because no consumer wants a phone that can only charge to 90% - what a rip-off that would be perceived to be.

    • I'm charging my S8+ ~1.5 a day. 500 charges means that after just 1 year the battery is at 78% of capacity, What happens after 1.5 years?

      Even for those who charge only once a day, 500 charges is ~1.5 years, which is less than the common 2-year lifespan of the phone.

      Increasing the battery density probably won't help either, as manufacturers will again make thinner phones instead of increasing capacity.

      After a year your battery power remains around 80%. At this rate after 1 year your battery will last for 7.8 hrs if it lasted 10 hrs initially(not bad considering you supercharge it everytime). Next year it will be 6.2 hrs and next year it will be 5 hrs. So after 3 years it will be at 50% of capacity. Not bad for me. Considering it will increasing capacity by 45% at initial stage. So theoretically it will be 75% of capacity after 3 years. And one more thing- charge cycle of li-ion is different than charging

      • > Considering it will increasing capacity by 45% at initial stage.

        Sadly, given current market trends I'd bet on a 31% thinner battery with the same capacity instead.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      I'm charging my S7 about 0.15/day. 100% when I leave home, about 85%-90% when I go to bed. Sometimes I let the battery discharge to about 20%, but that takes ~5 days.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      80% is the standard measure of battery lifetime that manufacturers use. Some phone manufacturers will replace your battery if it goes below that level within the warranty period, but I don't know if Samsung is one.

      Having said that, how are you managing 1.5 charge cycles a day?! Based on reviews of the S8+ you should be seeing about 10% for an hour of streaming video, or 20% in the fake-HDR ultra-brightness video enhancement mode. Heavy browsing and app use should get you maybe 6 hours of solid use. Maybe yo

    • I get 3-5 days on a single charge of my phone.

      It has a 4500mAh Li-Ion battery. On a light use day, I still have 98% or so battery when I go to bed. On a heavy use day, I'll burn through up to 15%.

      Oh, and my phone was only $240, no contract, no financing. It's an LG X Power 2, known as LG X Charge in the US.

    • Typically, a "cycle" is defined as discharging to 0% and recharging to 100%. Partial charges and discharges (e.g. you notice battery is getting low so you charge it at 20%, then take it off the charger at 80% because you figure that's enough to get through the rest of the day) are much less stressful [batteryuniversity.com], and your battery can survive a lot more of those partial cycles. That's the strategy employed by EV makers to maximize battery longevity.
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      Unless you're running your battery down to near-zero every day, you're not doing full discharge/recharge cycles, so your battery should last longer than 500 charges.

      As for what to do when the battery life is no longer long enough -- swap it out for a new battery. (Sorry, iPhone users, you'll have to hire a college kid to do it for you)

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      Increasing the battery density probably won't help either, as manufacturers will again make thinner phones instead of increasing capacity.

      To which 90% of most users will stick in a fat ass case so they can get a better grip on the paper thin phone.....

    • I think they are quoting full cycles. That is the only explanation that I can come up with for a claim that 78% capacity after 500 charges is competitive. Lithium batteries are known to deliver a much larger amount of total lifetime energy when they are recharged before being fully discharged. So a full cycle test is not representative. It would be nice to see a new test emerge that says what the average lifetime power delivery would be with a more optimal charging pattern.

      An example of this is the actual d

    • > I'm charging my S8+ ~1.5 a day. 500 charges means that after just 1 year the battery is at 78% of capacity, What happens after 1.5 years?

      If you ask samsung, or any other corporation that sells consumer products they would reply: Buy new one.

      This is exactly what they _WANT_, and it's easy to see because everything you buy new lasts less than previous version of the same thing.
  • #4,593...that hasn't made it out of the lab. How many stories, about new battery tech, that would allow longer life, shorter charge times have their been in the past couple years?
  • The article was published in Nature Communications - Nature Publishing Group's open access journal. Nature itself is a journal that has 3-4x the impact factor of Nature Communications. This probably doesn't matter to most people but it is a way to gauge how novel/impactful the research was perceived by the scientific community.

    • And now you know what brand extension is.

      They're doing the same thing with the word "graphene." They've coated glass beads with a few dozen layers of graphite, which is not a new idea, but calling it "graphene" will get it talked about.

  • Serious question: What's the shelf-life of a Lipo cell? I've looked at a bunch of datasheets and I can't find any specs on this. I'm not talking about the self-discharge rate but rather if I get a cell from the manufacturer, which is usually at 50% charge, and let it sit for several years without ever cycling it, what happens to the cell's performance? Does it lose the ability to hold charge? Does it lose the ability to deliver the rated current output? If it degrades over time, what's that degradation

  • "Apple has courage. We have balls."
  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @11:17AM (#55643913)

    Here's the thing: I must've heard of a new revolutionary battery technology at least once a month for the past 5 years or so.
    The problem is always mass production.
    Can Samsung churn out batteries with graphene balls for all devices that currently use Li-po batteries at similar costs and similar speeds?
    If not, then it won't be replacing anything. And this story is yet another one for the archives.

  • Two Things (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @11:38AM (#55644003) Journal

    1) They'll just make the battery smaller, I'd guess. Why would a company whose job it is to sell hardware want that hardware to disrupt their product cycle (cynical, I know)?

    2) DON'T charge you battery to 100% or discharge to near-zero. I don't have links, but there are some neat articles around the internet regarding the chemistry of li-ion batteries and charge/discharge. It's shown that charging to ~80% and discharging to only ~40% allows the battery to last far far longer; that's what I do, and so far it's working out very well.

    • DON'T charge you battery to 100%

      How do you prevent it from charging 100% when you're asleep ?

      • DON'T charge you battery to 100%

        How do you prevent it from charging 100% when you're asleep ?

        Code yourself a simple app to sound an excruciatingly loud alarm when charging reaches 80%. You wake up, and pull the plug out when you throw the thing against the wall, job done.

    • Companies may make the phone smaller if they can make the battery smaller, but they generally have incentive to put as much battery as possible in the device. Batteries are largely irrelevant in the product cycle, because approximately nobody buys a new phone because the battery has deteriorated. I'm using a four-year-old phone, and my sister-in-law just stopped using my wife's seven-year-old phone earlier this year, and the batteries were still satisfactory.

      Neither my wife, my sister-in-law, nor I b

  • great balls of fire
  • There are different types of advances in batteries. Sometime someone come up with a new chemistry or design. In this case they were looking at a problem (degradation of the electrodes) that had a known solution (coating the electrodes with graphene) but there wasn't a manufacturing process to do it. So they have come up with a very innovative way to do it that should be "easy" to add to manufacturing. This is probably one of those incremental breakthroughs that is closer to reality than a lot of the oth

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