Smartphones turn out to be pretty lethal when it comes to battery explosions. There have been many cases in the past where battery explosion has caused severe repercussions for the users involved in the incident. Although, not much can be done to avoid such accidents, but a battery that would at least give a subtle warning to users before bordering near to an explosion, could prove to be helpful in avoiding injuries.
Stanford Associate Professor, Yi Cui along with other professors is planning to come up with a ’smart’ battery that would warn users before reaching the point of explosion so that users can save themselves from the aftereffects. Lithium-ion batteries consists of two electrodes — an anode, which is made up of carbon and a cathode, which is made up of lithium metal oxide, and separated by a thin polymer.
So, what causes the battery to burst? Well, it happens when the thin polymer (penetrable in nature) is punctured by some element or impurities in the battery or maybe by over-charge and all this leads to lithium ions piling up and the forming a long chain known as dendrites. The pierced polymer leads to battery explosion.
A solution to this has been discovered by Stanford professors, and they have come up with an idea to add another layer on top of the polymer on the side of anode. This fore layer on the polymer will be made up of copper and will in turn act as a third electrode. It will also measure the voltage running between the polymer and anode and when the dendrite chain reaches the copper layer, it will bring down the voltage to zero. As soon as the voltage goes zero, it sends out a signal that the polymer layer has been compromised and the battery requires to be changed right away.
The aforementioned method means that the battery is not all that smart by itself, it will actually need a smart device to read the signal sent by the copper layer. The copper layer can be used to diagnose where dendrites will penetrate the polymer layer, although it is capable of issuing an immediate warning before the incident, but researchers are of a view that if the copper layer is placed nearer to the anode then we can get an early warning before the explosion takes place. Such feature will be required by many devices other than smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Aircrafts, automobiles, and electric vehicles, equally require such technique so that users can be alerted before the happening of any mishap related to the battery.
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