A New Battery

Battery life. Two words that can turn anyone who owns an electronic device into a total wreck. But scientists at POSTECH may have found the solution to prevent you from having a panic attack each time you see your device almost out of juice.

Prof. Gyeong Man Choi and his Ph.D. student Kun Joong Kim have developed a miniaturized solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) powerful enough to extend the flying time of drones to more than an hour. And that's just the start.

While most SOFCs are typically made of silicon, which is very quick to wear out, Choi's team decided to use a different material.

They made their SOFC's from a combination of porous stainless steel and a thin-film of electrolyte and electrodes of minimal heat capacity. And simply by changing the materials, this has made their mini fuel cells both thermally and mechanically stronger than typical SOFCs.

A New Era of Phone Life
Credit: Gilles Lambert

But the most important data in their study, published in the March edition of Scientific Reports, is the high power density of their micro SOFCs. Clocking in at ~560 mW cm-2 at 550 oC, it has the potential to replace lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones, laptops, drones, and other small electronic devices.

For drone owners and operators, this means a lightweight, high-powered tech that can extend flight time. For the rest of the world, for anyone who owns a smartphone, this means having to charge only once a week. Once a week. Let that sink in for a moment.

With these newly developed SOFCs, a world where "always on" is a real possibility.

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