Silly Putty is more than just a child’s toy, at least that’s what researchers at The University of California believe.
A team of scientists in the university’s Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have discovered a way to use an ingredient found in Silly Putty to make batteries that are more energy efficient for smartphones.
Lithium ion batteries based on this Silly Putty material are said to last three times as long as the industry standard smartphone battery, according to UCR Today, a campus publication.
“We are taking the same material used in kids’ toys and medical devices and even fast food and using it to create next generation battery materials,” Zachary Favours, the lead author of a paper that was just published on the research, said to UCR.
The substance, called silicon dioxide, was attractive to the team because it’s abundant, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly, according to UCR.
Silicon dioxide has been used in lithium ion batteries previously, but the effects haven’t been as impressive.
That’s because the engineers at the University of California have found a way to use silicon dioxide in nanotube form — a shape that allows lithium ion batteries to produce more energy, as Gizmag reports.
The researchers not only found that these silicon nanotubes were extremely stable for use in lithium ion batteries, but that they can be cycled 100 times without losing their maximum capacity.
The team at the University of California are now focused on finding a way to scale up production of these silicon dioxide-based nanotube anodes to create a commercially viable product.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of silicon dioxide nanotube anodes being used in smartphone batteries. A team of Stanford researchers made a similar discovery regarding the use of silicon nanotubes in 2012, but the substance hasn’t been commercialized yet.
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