Want a 7-day charge on your smartphone? Western U research finds low-cost way to do it

In 2020, we may be facing a pandemic, but everyday problems continue to cause us anxiety, including ensuring our smartphones stay charged.

Now Western University post-doctoral fellow Weihan Li believes he’s found a way to do it, that will be cost effective for smartphone manufacturers.

Li says his research could also have a positive impact on other rechargeable products from electric cars to remote control toy cars.

"The current capacity is not enough for you, and you need to charge one or two times a day. So that’s too much for you. So that’s what we want to solve."

Li’s discovery centres on replacing a key element in lithium-ion production with a new type of phosphorous, that is commercially viable.

“For the black phosphorus, the problem currently is the cost is too high."

At $1,000 per gram, it has been restrictive to use commercial black phosphorous in battery production, even though its powering abilities are known.

But Li’s research produced a new type of phosphorus at a greatly reduced cost.

It was done by taking low grade red phosphorus, available at just 10 cents a gram.

The end result created a modified type of black phosphorus, which is 300 times cheaper to produce.

But the science and the method are not the news that excites every day users of electronics.

However, the break down of what it means, by Western Engineering Professor Andy Sun, likely will.

His work, supported by numerous partners including 3M Canada, has found Li’s ‘Phosphrene’ could - in theory - greatly increase battery life in your smartphone and electric car.

"The theoretical capacity of the phosphrene is seven times of the anode material currently used in lithium-ion batteries”.

While Sun says more research awaits, he acknowledges the discovery has the potential to change our world, dramatically, in years to come.

It’s exciting news for Minsi Li a PhD Student, and partner of Li, who is working on the earliest versions of the phosphrene battery, which are the size of those used in car remotes and some other electronic devices today.

"We hope we can make this to commercial to change peoples lives."