SEP 18, 2016 12:37 PM PDT

The Science Behind Note 7

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

This week, technology giant Samsung made an unprecedented decision to recall every single of the Note 7 smartphone that's already sold. The mass recall comes after an increasing number of consumers reported their phones spontaneously bursting into flames.

In a statement, Samsung pinpointed the explosive phones to faulty lithium ion batteries. Popular in many electronic devices, lithium ion batteries are preferred because they are highly efficient at storing energy and are slow to lose their charge.

But the liquid that suspends the lithium ions are highly flammable. The Note 7 batteries likely short-circuited due to a puncture in the plastic that separates the positive and negative ions from touching. This would heat up the battery liquid, which could easily cause overheating and explosions.

Of note, the Federal Aviation Administration is taking the hazard quite seriously, asking passengers to restrict use or charging of this smartphone during flights.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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