When the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 started making headlines shortly after its launch in August, it was for all the wrong reasons. Samsung had to start recalling the devices after reports they were overheating and catching fire -- and just yesterday announced it would halt production and sales of the device altogether. The troubles, both costly and embarrassing for the company, were all down to the battery.
Like almost all rechargeable consumer electronics, Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 uses a lithium-ion battery, where lithium ions are used to move charge between the battery's positive and negative electrodes. The ions are carried between the two in a liquid electrolyte, typically a lithium salt. In the event of a short circuit, that highly flammable liquid electrolyte can heat up and even catch fire.While it's still too early to tell what went wrong in Samsung's case, the company blamed a rare manufacturing error that "placed pressure on plates contained within battery cells" and "brought negative and positive poles into contact".