The next generation of Smartphone batteries may be five times stronger than the current ones available in the market. And they will mimic the structure of cells in our guts that help us in absorbing nutrients.

The prototype of a lithium-sulphur battery, which the researchers have developed, will have five times the energy density of the lithium-ion batteries used in smart phones and other electronic devices, reports the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

The new design by researchers led by Dr Vasant Kumar at the University of Cambridge, overcomes one of the key technical problems hindering the commercial development of lithium-sulphur batteries, by preventing the degradation of the battery caused by the loss of material within it.

The researchers, working in collaboration with those at Beijing Institute of Technology, developed and tested a lightweight nanostructured material which resembles villi, the finger-like protrusions which line the small intestine. In the human body, villi absorb the products of digestion and increase the surface area over which this process can take place.

In the new lithium-sulphur battery, a layer of material with a villi-like structure, made from tiny zinc oxide wires, is placed on the surface of one of the battery’s electrodes. This can trap fragments of the active material when they break off, keeping them electrochemically accessible and allowing the material to be reused.

For the time being, however, the device is a proof of principle and commercially-available lithium-sulphur batteries may be still some years away. Also, while the number of times the battery can be charged and discharged has been improved, it is still not able to go through as many charge cycles as a lithium-ion battery. But since a lithium-sulphur battery does not need to be charged as often as a lithium-ion battery.