Designers of a new aluminum-ion battery say it could charge a smartphone in about a minute and endure far more rechargings than today's lithium-ion batteries. Only problem is it has about half the voltage, Stanford University reports via the Telegraph. "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," says Stanford professor Hongjie Dai. Compared to alkaline batteries, he says, the Stanford invention is better for the environment, and unlike lithium-ions, it won't catch fire—"even if you drill through it," he says.
Researchers have been trying to make a viable aluminum-ion battery for decades, Phys.org reports. The problem has been getting materials that create enough voltage after multiple rechargings. Aluminum batteries have two electrodes—a positively charged cathode and negatively charged anode—and "people have tried different kinds of materials for the cathode," says Dai. "We accidentally discovered that a simple solution is to use graphite, which is basically carbon." The battery still needs better voltage, which Dai says could be created by "improving the cathode material." Then it could be used in electronic devices and electrical grids, where (unlike lithium-ions) aluminum batteries can undergo tens of thousands of rechargings. (Click to read about a table that can charge your phone.)