MIT materials scientists Byoungwoo Kang & Gerbrand Ceder have published a paper in Nature describing a new battery technology which allows for ultrafast charging and discharging of lithium-ion batteries.  The discovery could lead to cellphone-sized batteries that could be charged in 10 seconds.

"The ability to charge and discharge batteries in a matter of seconds rather than hours may open up new technological applications and induce lifestyle changes," they wrote.

In energy storage, there has always been a trade-off between the amount of energy a material could store and how quickly you could charge and discharge it. Batteries are good at storing energy but getting the energy into and out of them is more difficult. The new battery material solves the problem by applying a special surface coating to the lithium iron phosphate which creates a "fast-lane" for ions to move around the material. This allows the ions to speed around the battery resulting in recharging 100 times more quickly than with current lithium-ion batteries.

Although batteries are notoriously difficult to scale out of the laboratory into production, the scientists believe that the new technology could make it to the market in two to three years. The technology has already been licensed by two manufacturers.