updated 02:35 pm EDT, Fri September 15, 2006
There are many devices inherently limited by the need to use alkaline batteries: cameras rarely last longer than a few weeks of steady photography, and few portable speakers have enough continuous power to challenge home speakers. A new research breakthrough at Brown University may encourage us to rethink the possibilities of portable electronics, according to ZDNet. Experiments conducted by scientists using a polymer-tipped plastic film have resulted in a hybrid battery that can both recharge and supply power over a long time. The design was 100 times more powerful than an alkaline battery in testing, opening the possibility of electronics that last far longer on a single charge or can draw more power at once. Equally impressive is the thickness, which is no greater than an overhead projector sheet; researchers speculate that devices could have batteries as part of the shell rather than carving out valuable space inside. "You could wrap cell phones in it," says Dr. Tayhas Palmore. The technology could be refined and ready to use in a few years' time.