Scientists at Stanford University have developed an aluminium-ion battery that could fully charge a smartphone in less than a minute.
The battery uses an aluminium anode and graphite cathode with an ionic liquid electrolyte, all contained in a flexible polymer-coated pouch, and can dramatically reduce the time it takes to fully charge a smartphone, which can vary from 30 minutes to several hours.
The use of graphite was crucial in the development, as it allows the battery to produce sufficient voltage after repeated charges and discharges.
Normal lithium-ion batteries can survive 100 cycles, but the researchers claimed that the aluminium-ion battery can withstand 7,500 cycles.
Hongjie Dai, chemistry professor at Stanford University, said that the long-life capacity will make the battery suitable for the storage of renewable energy on the electrical grid, as he explained in the video below.
He also claimed that the technology is safer than the alkaline and lithium-ion batteries currently used in laptops and mobile devices.
“We have developed a rechargeable aluminium 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,” he said. “Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”
The flexibility and durability of the battery also make it suitable for electronic devices that can be bent or folded.
However, the battery cannot yet match the voltage of lithium-ion equivalents, despite achieving the highest power of any aluminium-based battery to date.
“Our battery produces about half the voltage of a typical lithium battery. But improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density,” said Dai.
“Otherwise, our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life. I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting.”
Stanford University is not alone in exploring how smartphone batteries can be improved. UK vacuum cleaner and hand dryer firm Dyson recently invested $15m in solid-state battery maker Sakti3.