Charging portable electronics will be super-fast, widely accessible

June 16, 2014

Powermat charge rings (credit: Starbucks)

Two innovations for on-the-go mobile-device users seeking a quick charge are in the works: Starbucks plans to install wireless charging devices in all of its stores; and a new battery design could enable rapid charging of lithium-ion batteries in ten minutes.

Starbucks stores will have “Powermat Spots” — designated areas on tables and counters where customers can place their compatible device and charge them wirelessly. The system uses inductive coupling, which can charge nearby devices.

Some Starbucks stores in Boston and San Jose offer Powermat today, with San Francisco next. Starbucks is planning some 100,000 devices in its 7,000-plus stores, says the Washington Post/Bloomberg. Track the rollout here.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have developed a new battery anode design for rechargeable lithium ion batteries that could allow charging in 10 minutes instead of hours.

It uses silicon, whose total charge capacity is 10 times higher than commercial graphite-based lithium ion battery anodes. That could result in a 63 percent increase of total cell capacity and a battery that is 40 percent lighter and smaller, the US Riverside researchers say. They’re developed a novel structure consisting of cone-shaped carbon nanotube clusters decorated with 3D silicon.

But batteries may eventually disappear when electricity is generated from an individual’s physical movements, using energy-harvesting textiles, The Conversation reports.

Abstract of Small paper

In this work, we report the synthesis of an three-dimensional (3D) cone-shape CNT clusters (CCC) via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) with subsequent inductively coupled plasma (ICP) treatment. An innovative silicon decorated cone-shape CNT clusters (SCCC) is prepared by simply depositing amorphous silicon onto CCC via magnetron sputtering. The seamless connection between silicon decorated CNT cones and graphene facilitates the charge transfer in the system and suggests a binder-free technique of preparing lithium ion battery (LIB) anodes. Lithium ion batteries based on this novel 3D SCCC architecture demonstrates high reversible capacity of 1954 mAh g−1 and excellent cycling stability (>1200 mAh g−1 capacity with ≈100% coulombic efficiency after 230 cycles).