Practical battery technology has been stagnant for far too long, but researchers at Stanford may have made a crucial breakthrough thanks to one thing: aluminum.
Compared with today's lithium-ion options, the researchers' aluminum-ion batteries are cheaper, safer, more flexible, and longer-lasting, they said in an article in the science journal Nature.
And two of them can charge a smartphone in as little as one minute.
Aluminum has high energy storage capacity, low flammability and low cost, and by combining the metal with graphite cathodes (a happy accident, apparently) the scientists made viable batteries.
They have a low chance of catching fire or exploding, and since they use a liquid electrolyte, the new batteries can take the form of liquid-filled pouches that can be used in flexible technology like curved phones.
But although they can last for thousands more charge cycles than lithium batteries and charge fully in a fraction of the time, the aluminum batteries have a fatal flaw: the scientists have yet to work out how to make them produce enough voltage to be truly practical.
The researchers said they see the tech as "a new battery in its early days."