US scientists hail breakthrough in technology they say could provide safer, more convenient, greener alternative for laptops and mobiles.
Scientists say they have invented a new battery that could fully charge a smartphone in just one minute.
The researchers have created an aluminum battery which they hope could replace the lithium models commonly found in laptops and mobile phones.
And as well as the “unprecedented charging times” of their aluminum prototype, the team said it was also safer than lithium-ion batteries as it was less prone to catching fire and more environmentally friendly than alkaline models such as AA and AAA.
Publishing the findings in the journal Nature, Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University, hailed it as a breakthrough in battery technology that went further than previous attempts using aluminum.
He said: “We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames. Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.
“Millions of consumers use 1.5-volt AA and AAA batteries. Our rechargeable aluminum battery generates about two volts of electricity. That’s higher than anyone has achieved with aluminum.”
The prototype was said to be more durable, withstanding more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity and surpassing previous aluminium batteries which died after just 100 charge-discharge cycles, while a typical lithium-ion battery lasts about 1,000 cycles.
“This was the first time an ultra-fast aluminium-ion battery was constructed with stability over thousands of cycles,” the report’s authors wrote.
Dai added that lithium batteries could “go off in an unpredictable manner” and cited a ban by US airlines Delta and United on bulk shipments on passenger planes.
And the new design could be used to store renewable energy of the electrical grid, the researchers suggested.
Meanwhile, co-author Ming Gong said: “Another feature of the aluminium battery is flexibility. You can bend it and fold it, so it has the potential for use in flexible electronic devices. Aluminium is also a cheaper metal than lithium.”