I have long said that one of the keys to making our gadgets more usable and vehicles that use batteries like EVs and plug-in hybrids more interesting to buyers is not only a battery with a higher capacity for energy storage, but also a battery that can be recharged quickly. That Nissan Leaf might not drive but 50 miles on a charge, but if I can recharge that car in only a few minutes suddenly that range is a lot more livable.
Researchers from the University of Illinois have created a new type of lithium battery by focusing on reducing the distance that the ions have to move inside the battery before reaching an electrode. To facilitate this reduction they used a very carefully structured cathode. The process they used is also straightforward and could be used in mass production according to Ars Technica.
The scientists used what amounts to a nickel wire mesh that was created by a process of packing spherical polystyrene pellets inside a battery to adjust the spacing of the electrode features. Once the spheres were in there a layer of opal was formed on top locking the pattern in place. Then nickel was deposited on top of the opal and then etched away. The layer of nickel was then electropolished to increase is porosity. There is a lot more that goes into the process. In the end, the team created a NiMH battery that was able to deliver 75% of the normal capacity of the battery in only 2.7 seconds and it took only 20 seconds to get the battery to 90% capacity. Apparently, a production scale battery would be able to hit 75% capacity in a minute and 90% within two minutes.