The self-charging battery could be on the horizon

A team of researchers is working to develop a solar-powered battery

If you own a smartphone, you'll be familiar with the 'low-battery anxiety', which researchers recently proved is real. It seems now that another team of scientists are working to battle against this very issue. 

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal and Hydro-Quebec have found a way to incorporate light-harvesting materials into a smartphone battery. The team added molecules with a photosensitive dye into the battery terminal. This simulated charging, but used solar power rather than electricity.

If the researchers can develop a terminal that will store and release the energy, they will have created the first self-charging lithium-ion battery. 

Don't get your hopes up just yet, however, as this process is likely to take years. 

“Theoretically speaking, our goal is to develop a new hybrid solar-battery system, but depending on the power it can generate when we miniaturise it, we can imagine applications for portable devices such as phones,” said lead researcher, Andrea Paolella.

The team is working to develop the second phase of the project after it received a $564,000 (€519,000) grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 

Tips

Small changes can make a huge difference to your battery life. Here are five top tips to ensure your battery works harder for you and gets you through the day.

Turn off push notifications

Not only will this save you battery but will also boost your productivity! We all know that it can be incredibly distracting to hear that little ping go every time a new email or tweet arrives in, so kill it! Go into your app settings and switch notifications from push to fetch.

Reduce screen brightness

Probably the most obvious of tips, but so many people walk around with their screen on full brightness and then give out about a dying battery. If you have an Android device, hit auto-brightness and then slide the toggle right down. If you have an iPhone, slide the toggle down to a level that is comfortable for your eyes.

Disable features when not in use

If you’re out and about, turn off your WiFi when you’re not using it. Similarly, only have your Bluetooth on when you need it. These functions tend to run in the background, even if you’re not using them and it eats up so much of your battery.

Shorten the screen timeout

I’m a divil for pressing the “home” button on my phone to check the time. This quick hit and mean the screen is live for anywhere from 30 seconds to a number of minutes. Reduce this time right down to the lowest setting possible and you’ll save precious battery life.

Kill “auto-upload”

Many of us use auto-upload features on our smartphones, backing our images up to DropBox, Google Photos or OneDrive. This means every time we take a photo, our phones are working to place that image into the cloud. Firstly, ensure your phone only ever does this when you are on WiFi, otherwise you could be faced with a hefty phone bill! Secondly, having this working constantly is a battery-drain.