updated 04:00 pm EDT, Wed March 11, 2009
MIT Fast Recharge Battery
MIT scientists led by professor Gerbrand Ceder today said they have developed a new improvement on lithium-ion battery packs that could potentially eliminate the need for long recharge times or, in some cases, for larger batteries. By applying a coating of lithium phosphate to an existing battery design, the researchers steer the ions more directly to the "tunnels" leading to the battery terminal and thus supply a charge much faster than the more passive approach used today.
Changing this behavior would let lithium-ion batteries send or receive a charge in short but intense bursts rather than at a moderate rate. A phone could potentially charge in as little as 10 seconds, according to the researchers, while even a plug-in gas/electric car like the Chevy Volt with a necessarily large battery could have a complete charge within a few minutes as long as the power source itself is capable. Any battery could also potentially be smaller, as electronics makers wouldn't need to put in a large battery capacity to handle occasional spikes in power use.
As the breakthrough is relatively conservative, the school says it should reach shipping products within 2-3 years and has already licensed its approach to two unnamed companies for use in commercial products.
The lithium phosphate coating material in raw form