Apple may use electrical debonding to replace batteries


As a result of EU pressure for greater repairability of consumer devices such as smartphones, Apple sees itself forced to make the battery in the iPhone user-replaceable by 2027. Reportedly, this has led Apple to consider using electroadhesion rather than traditional adhesives, which require heat, isopropyl alcohol, violence, or all of the above. Although details are scarce, it seems the general idea would be that the battery is wrapped in metal, which, combined with the inside of the metal case, would allow the formation of a cationic/anionic pair capable of permanent adhesion with the application of a low voltage DC current.

This is not a strange idea at all. Tesa has already commercialised it in its electric debonding form. Debonding on demand product. It uses a tape that is applied to one side of the (metal) surfaces, with pressure applied 5 times for 5 seconds. After this, both parts can be released again without any residue as shown in the image above. It involves applying 12V DC voltage for 60 seconds, after which both parts can be removed without any force.

Tesa sells it alongside the pull tab adhesive strips that are currently so popular in smartphones, opinion on pull strips is very divided when replacing a battery. It's always good to have a bottle of IPA nearby for when the pull tab inevitably breaks and you have to unscrew the battery. Electroadhesion for debonding would make life a lot easier in this regard as the times when the battery was not a structural part of the smartphone are unlikely to return now, no matter how much we miss them.

We've also discussed electroadhesion before, as you can stick anything to anything, from biological tissue to graphite and metals, and it has potentially interesting applications in robotics and medicine.

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