Stanford University researchers on Tuesday revealed they had stumbled onto a breakthrough that could lead to the adoption of fast-charging, long-lasting batteries in the near future. “An ultra-fast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery,” which details the team’s findings, was published in the April 6 edition of Nature. The turning point occurred when the researchers were trying out materials to serve as a cathode, and they began experimenting with graphite. Using one of the aluminum-ion prototypes, they were able to charge a battery comparable to one used in a smartphone, in roughly 1 minute. That’s about 60 times faster than a lithium-ion battery would charge.
Stanford’s aluminum-ion concept promises unprecedented durability, standing up to about 7,500 charge-discharge cycles before losing any of its capacity. To put that into perspective: Lithium-ion batteries endure about 1,000 cycles before declining in capacity, and previous aluminum-ion prototypes could withstand only about 100.
Other benefits of the aluminum-ion prototype include safety and flexibility.
The researchers could safely bore into an aluminum-ion battery without causing a fire, though that wouldn’t be possible with lithium-ion cells. Aluminum-ion batteries are pliable, to a degree, which could have huge implications for just about any device that runs on battery power.