Apple on Tuesday was granted a total of 54 new patents, the most noteworthy of which covers the company’s invention of a so-called “laminar battery” technology, which promises a greater energy/volume capacity while offering an overall “better, longer lasting” battery than traditional Li-Ion packs found in current devices like the iPhone and iPad.
Originally filed back in 2013, but published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Apple’s patent No. 9,711,770 outlines the broader concept of this “Laminar battery system.” While the patent itself is more technical in nature, providing only a broad overview of how the battery system could ultimately prove more efficient than current battery technologies, it nevertheless describes how Apple could implement it into devices like future iPhones, iPads, and even MacBooks, to provide users with a more powerful, power-efficient, longer-lasting and higher capacity battery solution for their mobile devices.
Benefits of Laminar Batteries
Apple’s laminar battery system, while not explained in a technological context, provides deeper insight into how the system could ultimately be more efficient than the current slate of battery technologies. A 2007 report from Printed Electronics World, for example, explains how laminar batteries can be charged much faster than traditional flat sheet batteries, while a 2010 report from IDTechEx adds that laminar batteries used in electronic devices tend to run much cooler, offer better damage tolerance, and overall better performance in respect to charge and discharge speeds.
Current Limitations of Battery Technology
The slate of existing battery technologies come in a wide range of forms, shapes, sizes, and architectures, which are typically device-specific based on each device’s design and size/weight limitations. Some examples include the traditional “rod and tube” (dry cell) and “flat plate” (flooded cell) designs, which are more common in devices like smartphones and laptop computers, as well as the more readily available “jelly roll” configuration, in which the positively and negatively charged anode and cathode layers are first spread out like a flat sheet prior to being ‘rolled-up’ into a more compact design that easily fits into more compact form-factors.
Moreover, manufacturers are typically put in the position where trade-offs have to made in order to determine the best design for each device. Factors including size, weight, power consumption, durability and thermal loading, are generally considered when selecting a device’s battery design.
There’s currently no timeline indicating when, or even if, we can expect to see laminar batteries in our iPhones or iPads, but researchers from various institutions have been working to develop a number of new battery technologies that could one day power devices like smartphones and electric cars — so it will definitely be interesting to see how the current landscape of battery technologies evolve over the next few years.
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