We've seen some interesting advances in battery technology as of late -- ZPower, for example, promises we'll see its silver-zinc batteries in at least one notebook line later this year -- but don't count lithium ion out. A new breakthrough in lithium battery technology could lead to either a higher storage density than what's being used today, or the ability to charge and discharge much faster.
How it works is that the lithium resides in a material designed to move through the battery quickly, paving the way for charges to be shifted in and out of storage at a much faster rate than what's possible when relying on lithium ions to act as the primary charge carrier. The process involves creating a disorganized lithium phosphate coating on the surfaces of LiFePO 4 crystals. Tweaking the ratio of iron to phosphorous in the starting mix and heating the material to 600C under argon for several hours, a material with a glass-like coating is created with high lithium mobility. This allows lithium to move quicklly through the outer coating.
The end result is a battery that can fully discharge in under 10 seconds, a feat that previously would have required using supercapacitors. Capacity retention is improved too, as after 50 charge and recharge cycles, no significant change in the total capacity of the battery was noted.
Get all the geeky details here .