New battery breakthrough provides more power in less space

26 Jun 2019

Image: © ra2 studio/

AMBER and Nokia Bell Labs have teamed up to power future technologies with a new battery design.

A new battery design from Finland’s Nokia Bell Labs and Ireland’s AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) research centre offers more than twice the battery life of current market-leading super-slim batteries, thus doubling the energy of a battery without adding to the weight. This makes it a useful and practical power source for drones, electric vehicles, both the consumer and industrial internet of things (IoT), and more.

Researchers at Nokia Bell Labs and Science Foundation Ireland’s AMBER centre had their research into an innovative formula for battery composition published in Nature Energy.

Power for a new energy era

The transition to 5G is expected to herald a new era for IoT, which covers everything from wearable technologies to pervasive sensors and industrial robots. Along with smartphones, drones, electric vehicles and robots, all these connected devices need power – the more compact, lightweight and high-performing, the better.

“By packing more energy into a smaller space, this new battery technology will have a profound impact on 5G and the entire networked world,” said Paul King, one of the lead investigators on the project and a member of the Nokia Bell Labs technical staff.

This new battery technology also has the potential to improve the performance of large-scale energy grids powered by renewable energy. Energy storage technology such as this can help to manage the high fluctuation of energy generated through wind and solar sources.

One study predicts that 100pc renewable energy systems will require 25 times more energy storage compared to today’s systems. This makes efficient, fast-charging and compact energy storage even more important to future energy plans.

The researchers also expect to see applications for this technology on 4G and 5G networks where conventional power may not be available for network equipment, or where emergency backup battery systems are essential to keep systems running.

Collaborative success

A patent has been filed to protect this new design and help bring it to the marketplace.

The multidisciplinary research bringing together Nokia Bell Labs’ industry and device knowledge and AMBER’s materials science expertise came about via the Nokia Bell Labs Distinguished Academic Partner Program. For almost a century, Bell Labs has invented some of the foundational technologies that underpin information and communications technology, while AMBER, which is based at Trinity College Dublin, has enabled industry-academic partnerships to develop new materials and devices for ICT, medical devices and industrial technology.

“Our results were achieved through the deeply collaborative mode in which we work, underscoring the value of engaging with AMBER as part of our global research strategy,” said King.

Dr Lorraine Byrne, executive director of AMBER, said: “Bringing scientists together from industry and academia with a common research goal has resulted in a substantial scientific breakthrough. … I look forward to AMBER’s collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs continuing to break new boundaries in science, creating impact for society.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.