SASKATOON -- Picking up a cell phone for an important call or email only to see the battery die is a situation researchers from Western University are hoping to help prevent in the future.

And they conducted research at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon.

The Canadian Light Source says the research looked at a substance called phosphorene, which comes from black phosphorus. It says the capacity of the two-dimensional material is almost seven times more than that of anode materials used in lithium-ion batteries.

“That could translate into real-world benefits such as significantly greater range for electric vehicles and longer battery life for cell phones,” the Canadian Light Source said in a news release.

The current issues lie in the cost and how quickly the substance degrades. Commercially available black phosphorus is extremely expensive, at a price of about $1,000 per gram and breaks down quickly when exposed to air.

The CLS says researches found a way to produce it from inexpensive, low purity red phosphorus. The resulting material had nearly the same purity and electronic properties at a reduced cost of nearly 300 per cent.

"It becomes much cheaper to put in the battery. So it would increase the capacity of the battery at a lower cost,” CLS Science Director Gianluigi Botton said. “Just imagine a battery, a car battery, that you could charge once and maybe go across Canada on one single charge. That’s what the development could be.”

Botton says a beam of light and chemical analysis was used to closely examine the properties of the phosphorene to help address the issue of degradation and how it spreads.

“Without the help of the CLS, we could not have combined several different synchrotron techniques in the two works. Moreover, conducting the in-situ studies would not have been possible without the help of the beamline scientists,” said Andy (Xueliang) Sun, a member of the research team.

Researchers say the project paves the way towards better ways to protect phosphorene when used in electronics.