Scientists Have Built a Battery That Could Charge Your Phone in Less Than 60 Seconds

Source: Getty Images

Scientists from Stanford University have invented a flexible battery that may be able to charge a mobile phone in 60 seconds.

According to a university report, chemistry professor Hongjie Dai and his team devised a high-performance, flexible aluminum battery that's both safe and potentially inexpensive.

"We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames," Dai said in the report. "Our new battery won't catch fire, even if you drill through it."

Source: YouTube

In a video from Stanford, Dai shows the battery, which looks like an aluminum packet of instant ramen flavoring, powering a phone and a small LED light. "It's possible to have a, like, bendable cellphone, [or] an expandable screen," he says on camera. "You [could] have bendable batteries on the back."

The video also shows Dai drilling through the battery while continuing to work; a trick, which when attempted on a lithium-ion battery, often goes horribly wrong.

Aluminum battery being drilled while active
Source: 
Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy

So will this actually work? While the battery could be a promising alternative for use in mobile device batteries, it's still a ways off. It could also face ridicule from globally recognized, billionaire smart guys like Elon Musk, himself a battery maker.

Musk took to Twitter the same day Dai's research was published online in the weekly science journal Nature to say it probably won't live up to the hype.

The tweet is a rough jab at a collegiate research group the day their paper came out, but Musk has a point. The battery can only generate about two volts of electricity, which is about half of what a lithium-ion battery can handle.

Still, if Dai and the Stanford team can figure out how to increase the voltage, before long they could be presenting the world with a cheap, light, fast-charging, non-exploding, pliable alternative to a battery that badly needs an update.

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Max Plenke

Max Plenke is a staff writer at Mic, where he covers breaking news, climate science, health and the future. His work has appeared in Esquire, GQ and Wallpaper. Send story tips to max@mic.com.

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