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Phones have taken over our society. For better or worse, they control much of what is said on a day-to-day basis. Indeed, many times, our lives are dictated by these devices. But there is hope that, someday, we will be able to take back some of this power.

If you’ve ever had to delay your plans because you were waiting for your phone to charge, there is good news. Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have come up with a lithium ion battery that charges to 70 percent  in just two minutes. Even better, it lasts for 20 years. Best of all, it will reportedly be available to the public within two years.

To operate, most devices use rechargeable lithium ion batteries. The vast majority of these only last around 500 recharge cycles, roughly two to three years, and they take around two hours to fully charge. The new battery drastically improves this process, and could potentially help make electric vehicles a more viable alternative to fossil-fuel-powered cars, by reducing battery replacement costs and allowing drivers to recharge their cars in minutes.

“Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars. Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the toxic waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last 10 times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries.” said Professor Chen Xiaodong who led the study, in a press release.

So how does it work? Rather simply, actually. Scientists replaced the graphite in lithium-ion batteries with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide nanotubes. These nanotubes are a thousand times thinner than a human hair, and they speed up the rate at which electrons and ions can transfer in and out of the batteries, allowing for super-fast charging. They also allow more energy to be packed into the batteries. This means the battery can now offer up to 10,000 charging cycles, instead of the usual 500.

Exciting times, indeed.


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