There's been a fundamental problem holding back the development of gadgets for the last decade or so. While processing power, storage capacity, wireless speed, and even display quality are growing at a phenomenal and steady rate, lithium ion batteries really haven't changed at all. The best that manufacturers can do is either create smaller components to make more space for the battery bay or make those components more efficient. LG Chem has created one of the first truly exciting innovations in battery tech in a long time: a Li-ion battery that's flexible enough to twist into almost any shape necessary.

The basic chemical properties of the battery remain untouched. Copper wire coated with an alloy of nickel and tin creates the anode, which is tightly coiled like yarn or rope. The coiled wire is the surrounded by aluminum, which is then coated with cobalt oxide to create the cathode. After both are wrapped in a protective coating, the space in between is filled with electrolyte. LG claims that since the process is chemically identical to the layered Li-ion batteries currently in smartphones and tablets, it creates batteries that store the same amount of energy in a given space, but with the added advantage of being flexible and shapeable. They've already got this tech powering small devices.

lgchem1 lgchem2

The possibilities are staggering. In its simplest application, this flexible battery could be used to fill nearly all available space inside a gadget's housing. Tablets, especially, could benefit from a battery that wasn't restricted to semi-rectangular shapes. But perhaps the biggest application would be for non-traditional form factors like "smart" watches or FitBit-style sensors, for which all-day battery life currently requires a gadget that's much bulkier than it might need to be.

There are some potential pitfalls as well. Watching LG's demonstrations, it doesn't look like these cable batteries are any lighter than current models by volume. Flexible gadgets would also need to have some extra engineering in order to keep from potentially dangerous breaks to the battery casing. The good news, in a manner of speaking, is that LG should have plenty of time to iron out the details: they're not expecting the flexible cable batteries to hit the market until 2017. Maybe we'll see an Optimus Maximus (running Android 7.0) as the debut gadget.

[Via ExtremeTech]

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • cmsjr123

    I want one.....

    • Marcos Amano

      We all want it!

  • http://twitter.com/ajm135 Adryan Maldonado

    OK this plus Samsung flexible screens equals the ultimate phone:"Introducing the Samsung Galaxy Gumby"*followed by mass applause and adulation* with a flexible spen as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ShinobiPhoenix Cody Shiranai

      This plus Samsung's flexible screen means they can make a smartphone that isn't a rectangle and then Apple will have to make up some other bullcrap to sue the competition away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ShinobiPhoenix Cody Shiranai

    Quick, someone tell Apple so they can pretend they had it first and pre-sue them before LG makes them look stupid too! They are the only ones that innovate!!

    • http://twitter.com/TeaRex13 Terrel Thompson

      Ahh u beat me to it lol

    • HAB

      Apple is not in the business of creating individual components. They leave that to those who are experts in their own respective areas of component devlopment. So not sure what you are talking about except to make a hatred comment against Apple. Apple is in the business of putting together such individual components in a way that the final product delivers superior functionality and design which nobody thought about before. Then comes along Samsung and copies the final product down to the smallest details (even the box packaging) and shamelessly pretend they are innovating.

  • Sorian

    This inside smart watch band = something you wouldn't have to charge for days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667020551 Jose Torres

    I wish they can figure out how to make each square mm of battery space more efficient like they are doing here:


    otherwise we would only end up with a heavier phone. At least this opens up more doors for further gadget innovation.

  • miso_sori

    Actually I believe it was Professor Keon Jae Lee of the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology that created this technology, not LG.

  • GliTcH

    2017. 5 years from now. That's crazy, they have it now. Very annoying. What about Lithium Air batteries like they used in Children's toys in Eureka? Li-Air batteries are supposed to be the wave of the future, not finding ways to bend existing battery technology and releasing it 5 years later.

    • GliTcH

      From WikiPedia "In a nearer future, proponents of the technology expect lithium-air
      batteries to replace the lithium-ion batteries currently powering
      portable electronic devices. Lithium-air batteries have the potential to
      have 5-15 times the energy density of current lithium-ion batteries.
      Thus even the most conservative estimates indicate that a modern-day
      lithium-ion battery may someday be replaced by a lithium-air battery 1/5
      the size or a lithium-air battery with a lifespan 5 times as long.
      Whether lithium-air batteries lead to reduced battery sizes or longer
      lasting batteries, the potential for a vast reduction in price..."

    • GliTcH

      "With several concepts under their belt, IBM expects to reveal a working
      prototype of the lithium air battery in 2013. If all goes according to
      plan, IBM expects full commercial production of their technology in
      2020." Ok, so 2017 bendable Lithium-ION batteries, 2020 Lithium-AIR batteries.

  • Rick

    I liked the tech article I read about a university that created nano holes in lithium batteries and could yield a much larger charge. Like powering a smartphone for a week kind of charge. Where the hell does tech like this disappear to?