PORTLAND, Ore. Lithium-ion batteries could be recharged in seconds using a surface treatment invented by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
By fabricating nanoscale grooves atop traditional lithium iron phosphate material, battery cells could be recharged up to 36 times faster (as little as 10 seconds) instead of six minutes or more per cell.
The improved batteries also release energy more quickly, meaning they also could be used to boost acceleration in electric and hybrid cars at rates comparable to gasoline-powered engines.
| A sample of the MIT battery material that could allow quick charging of portable devices.|
MIT researchers estimate that the ease with which the new technique can be applied to existing lithium-ion batteries, for which MIT has applied for a patent and already licensed to two companies, will begin appearing in commercial products in as little as two years.
"We have created a new surface structure that allows lithium ions to move quickly around the outside of the bulk material until they align with tunnels that quickly transport the ions through it," said Byoungwoo Kang, an MIT doctoral candidate working under engineering professor Gerbrand Ceder.
Several years ago, Ceder found that computer simulations of materials used in lithium-ion batteries showed that the transport of ions should be much faster than previously thought. Further examination of the simulations revealed that only a limited number of tunnels to the interior of the bulk material were available at the surface.