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Silicon-Oxygen Anode Battery Technology is the Future of Smartphone Batteries

by Jeffrey Mathews | 3月 26, 2021

The quest for the next innovative battery technology has been quite slow for the last couple of years despite witnessing several breakthroughs by research institutions and vendors. This is primarily because these breakthroughs have not been materialized in real-world implementation, leading to failures in the past.

Xiaomi today announced the implementation of Silicon Oxygen Anode battery technology on its Mi 11 Ultra, which claims to provide a huge leap in smartphone battery performance. The implementation of the new battery technology has been derived from their application in electric vehicles where nano-scale silicon materials are added to the anode to drive energy density.



Image Source: Amperex Technology Limited



Battery Technology

In typical battery systems, the charge moves from cathode to anode during charging and vice versa during discharge. Improving battery life involves finding innovative solutions to improve both electrodes to send and receive more ions. 

This new battery technology improves upon the existing Lithium-Ion battery chemistry using innovative anode materials such as Silicon which replaces Graphite as the anode. Silicon-based anodes offer more energy density than graphite. We note that the research on this technology has been going on for the last 10 years, but progress was constrained because of technical problems like swelling of the anode which causes the surface to crack and storing of energy to drop substantially. The battery cell vendor overcomes this challenge by containing silicon inside a porous structure which provides space for the silicon to expand and contract without coming into contact with electrolyte, making silicon anodes to perform efficiently for high charge-discharge cycles.
 

Overview

Lithium is one of the most important critical minerals for batteries and the reliance will continue to grow because of the potential of Lithium-ion batteries which is further enhanced by the technological advances in the existing battery chemistry.  Strategy Analytics research finds that the Lithium Battery cell market revenue for smartphones witnessed YoY growth of 7 percent in 2020.

Smartphone battery technology will witness a massive breakthrough with the introduction of Silicon Oxygen Anode battery technology. This provides 10x more per gram capacity compared to graphite anode which means batteries will have larger capacity and higher energy density and will also be able to charge much faster. Moreover, the battery weight also gets reduced because of the increased capacity of each Silicon atom, this makes Silicon-Oxygen Anode batteries thinner and lighter.

Xiaomi had earlier implemented this technology in its Mi MIX Alpha smartphone but faced issues of short battery cycle life. The second-generation Silicon-Oxygen Anode battery technology is expected to improve the battery cycle life even further.

We believe that Xiaomi is sourcing these battery cells from Amperex Technology Limited (ATL) who has been developing this technology in collaboration with material suppliers over the last few years. ATL continued to lead the Smartphone Battery Cell Market with 42 percent revenue share in 2020.

The graphite-based anodes have been the key reason for the limitations in today’s Lithium-ion batteries because of its low capacity to hold charge. Lithium batteries with Silicon-Oxygen Anode are a key step in advancing battery technology in devices.


Key Questions

  • The battery is claimed to be thinner than traditional Lithium-ion batteries, what will be the potential impact of smartphone device weight? What is the difference in the weights of the two battery systems?
  • Shorter battery cycle life is a key disadvantage associated with this technology, how is the battery cell vendor managing this issue?
  • Depending upon the scalability of production of these battery cells, what will be the impact of this on smartphone BOM?
  • Xiaomi becomes the first smartphone vendor to apply this battery technology in smartphones, which other vendors are expected to follow suit?

Strategy Analytics’ Handset Component Technology service covers the smartphone battery market.  Clients can discover research covering the battery market and more here.

 


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