Stanford University researchers have found a way to reinvent the small lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, cell phones, video cameras and other devices to allow them to hold 10 times the charge they now do.
The new batteries use silicon nanowires.
A laptop that now runs on batteries for two hours could operate for 20 hours with the new batteries.
"It's not a small improvement," Yi Cui said. "It's a revolutionary development."
Cui, who lead the research team, is an assistant professor of materials science and engineering.
The greatly expanded storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries could make them attractive for electric car manufacturers.
In the new batteries, silicon is used instead of carbon to store the charged lithium, which provides power. Silicon can store much more lithium but it has a drawback because being charged and discharged expands and then contracts the silicon and can pulverize the silicon, degrading the batteries.
Cui and his research team found a way around that by using silicon nanowires to store the lithium. The wires also expand, but they don't fracture or degrade the way other silicon shapes do.