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If I leave my cell-phone charging the whole night, it will be fully charged after a while. What happens with the battery and the excess energy I add? Also, I noticed my charger emitting a different pitched sound after it has fully charged the battery. Is this just a mechanism that kicks in to redirect excess energy?

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Once the battery is fully charged it will not accept any more energy (current) from the charger, since all the energy levels that were depleted when empty are now at their highest level. For example in a Lithium ion battery when all the ions have arrived at the proper electrode the resistance to more current becomes very large, but not infinite since there will be some electron mobility.

It is Ohm's law that reigns at this stage: I=V/R

The charger ideally would stop charging if it finds infinite resistance between its + and - outlet voltage ( as it is when plugged in the outlet but not the mobile),but it will waste some energy heating the battery because the battery will not have infinite resistance, and it will waste some energy in the transformer circuit heating the charger, because it also has some resistance. It is best to unplug the charger when not in use.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is not right. Its quite easy to over charge a lithium ion battery. You dont approach an infinite resistance state before this happens. Chargers need to be carefully designed to ensure overcharging doesnt happen, and its not trivial to do. $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Jun 5 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Matt But I always thought that the inside of the battery would have an overall negative charge, thus resulting in a repulsive force for the incoming electrons from the wire to the battery. Which means that no more charge can enter the battery? $\endgroup$
    – Tachyon
    Jun 5 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Tachyon It depends. If you charge your battery by applying a fixed voltage, then you might reach a point where upon disconnecting the charger your battery will be the same voltage. But you will still have nonzero current due to leakage within the battery before you disconnect the charger, and just about always you are going to see a voltage drop upon disconnecting the charger. But all of this is irrelevant since this isn't how cellphone batteries are charged. Its more complicated than that. That's my biggest complaint with this answer, the question is about charging cellphone batteries. $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Jun 5 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Matt I guess that makes sense. I would have to do some research if I am to understand cellphone charging fully. $\endgroup$
    – Tachyon
    Jun 5 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @matt, This question was asked almost ten years ago, cellphones have developed enormously since then. I just used the information I could find on batteries and gave links. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jun 5 at 19:52
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Let us assume that your battery charges at a rate of 100 ma. When it is full the plates in the transformer of your charger will be saturated as they are made for this specific purpose. When the plates are saturated there is no magnetic field to cut and the charger is 'off'. If you leave it long enough the magnetic field will appear again and the charger will be 'on' again. This may account for the difference in noise. If you open a charger you may see a transformer and a diode , the regulator consists of the transformer plates saturating at the amperage for which the transformer was made. It is always wise to switch chargers and all electrical items not in use to the 'off' position.

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Charging your cell phone battery is a complicated process involving a specialized circuit in your phone to provide the correct current to the battery at all levels of charge. How this works is really an electronics question, not physics.

The phone does all the hard work, the "charger" just does what it is told. On modern "chargers" your phone can request a certain amount of current at specified voltages depending on what the charging circuit wants. Simpler "chargers" deliver up to a certain amount of current at a fixed voltage delending on what resistance the charging circuit presents to the charger. Once the battery is full, the charging circuit stops drawing power from the charger until such a point where it decids to resume charging.

Assuming a properly functioning charging circuit you cant add excess energy to the battery. There is no redirrcting of energy, the chaarging circuit just stops drawing power from the charger.

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