While it may seem that every week brings a new 'next big thing' in the world of batteries, this latest development in the world of portable power should have heads turning nonetheless.
As reported over on HotHardware
, researchers at Imperial College London - in partnership with boffins at Volvo, interested in creating hybrid electric cars with better ranges - have come up with a plastic capable of storing a charge in much the same way as a traditional battery.
The so-called 'plastic supercapacitor' is an impressive leap forward in the concept of power storage, allowing the actual casing of a device to provide the power it requires to run. In the case of cars, this means non-structural elements such as the bumpers and interior spaces could provide additional power for increased range; in portable devices, the actual case itself could store the energy required to make the device work.
The technology could be used in portable gadgets in two ways: certainly at first it's likely to be as an additional power source, helping to make a more traditional Lithium-Ion or Lithium-Polymer battery last that little bit longer; once the technology has been sufficiently improved, however, it's possible that the battery can be dispensed of entirely - paving the way for thinner, lighter portable devices.
It's good news from a green perspective, too: requiring fewer harmful chemicals during its manufacture, the plastic supercapacitor concept represents much less of an environmental concern when it comes time to dispose of your once-beloved gadget.
Project co-ordinator Dr. Emile Greenhaigh admits that "we’re at the first stage of this project and there is a long way to go,
" but envisions a future where "you might have a mobile phone that is as thin as a credit card because it no longer needs a bulky battery, or a laptop that can draw energy from its casing so it can run for a longer time without recharging.
" Sadly, the project is at too early a stage to offer even a guesstimate of when it'll be ready for commercial exploitation.
Are you excited at the thought of finally ditching the bulky battery, or is it the idea that week-long laptop power might finally be a reality that has you salivating? Share your thoughts over in the forums