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(a) Cross-sectional SEM image of an MnO2 cathode. (b) Lithiated MnO2 cathode. Zhang et al. Stolen from Green Car Congress.

Ever thought you’d see the day when you could charge your batteries in less than 10 seconds?  It may be coming with recent breakthroughs in nano-technology.  A group of researchers lead by Paul Braun, professor of materials science and engineering, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently developed a new type of cathode that can be used in NiMHs and Li-Ions.  And in laboratory testing, the group demonstrated charge rates of up to 400C for Li-Ions and 1000C for NiMHs.  Green Car Congress writes:

Braun’s group wraps a thin film into three-dimensional structure, achieving both high active volume (high capacity) and large current. They have demonstrated battery electrodes that can charge or discharge in a few seconds, 10 to 100 times faster than equivalent bulk electrodes, yet can perform normally in existing devices. This kind of performance could lead to phones that charge in seconds or laptops that charge in minutes, as well as high-power lasers and defibrillators that don’t need time to power up before or between pulses.

Prof. Braun also says that this cathode technology is universal, so it can be applied to other battery chemistries, not just NiMHs and Li-Ion.  This could be the major breakthrough that 1:1 electric vehicles need to catch on.  But us R/C enthusiasts might be among the first to benefit from this technology if it plays out.  Get on it MaxAmps!

Via Autoblog Green, Science Daily, and Green Car Congress